Let’s face it – ever since the infamous Voice Actors’ Strike of 2000, the industry has been topsy-turvy. The union paradigm has sustained a shocking blow and many say it could take another 10 years for the industry to fully recover. The strike gave way to the prolific discovery of non-union talent at a time when the buying public was starting to express frustration with polished over-the-top sales-pitchy performances of legacy talent. Many non-union types sounded fresh, young and modern. But, they were also green and un-trained in the arcane nuances of timing, phrase-turning and overall performance savvy.
Today, the voiceover business has become hyper-fragmented and literally flooded with talent, and the task of casting for a voiceover has become far more complex in recent years. Today, you are not merely limited to sending audition copy to a handful of agents. There are dozens of so-called pay-to-play voiceover casting sites, three to four times as many non-union agents as there are union, and the number of talent who work directly with buyers is at an all-time high and climbing each day.
This shift to complexity has become quite evident in the various kinds of auditions I receive each week. Depending on the age of the casting person, the fundamental components of the audition request – the gender and age range, the tone and timbre, the direction offered – can differ greatly.
There is also the need to understand the media platforms on which the final production will be played – traditional TV, radio, YouTube, Pandora are all in the mix.
The voiceover business has become hyper-fragmented and literally flooded with talent, and the task of casting for a voiceover has become far more complex in recent years.
In the “good old days”, there used to be a sort of unspoken format or convention for the various components of an audition. These inputs were easy for me to understand on the talent side and that gave me extra confidence to deliver my best version of the hoped-for performance.
But, as the industry evolves, we are spending more time filtering through the myriad factors that can go into casting a voice. Here are three ways to save time on your next VO casting project, so you can stay organized and avoid having to sift through needless audition reads of people who may not be anywhere close to the cast you are looking for:
- Determine the GENERATION-TYPE for your cast – Is it a modern voice? A legacy voice? Maybe it’s a hybrid, or perhaps you are willing to hear all styles because the client isn’t yet decided on which type to use. It’s also very helpful to define an age-range that is accurate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen “Male, 25-40, think Harrison Ford, Sam Elliott, or Morgan Freeman.” The last time I checked, none of these gents are even close to being under the age of 50! You might say, “Maybe they meant – what these guys sounded like when they were in their 30s.” If that is the case, SPECIFY THAT in your direction.
- Provide links to AUDIO or VIDEO clips to further articulate your casting direction – In this day and age of profligate viral media, there is almost always a reference link or two you can provide to assist agents and talent in accommodating your audition request.
- Include the probable RECORDING DATES for the session if they are available – this technique alone will save you plenty of time and needless hassles. If the dates are flexible, indicate that information as well.
The more detail about your casting project you can give to the agents, the better. You’ll save time over the long run and free yourself from having to filter out sup-par auditions because they are not the perfect fit for your cast – one way or another.