Written by Terry Berland for Backstage Industry Expert Advise
There are voiceover breakdown opportunities going out every day with hundreds of voiceover actors vying for each role. Only one person will book the job. As a casting director, I’m thrilled to have many great top-notch professional VO actors I can call on to audition. It’s important to be the best and leave a good impression in an audition so that you’ll be invited back for other projects you might be right for.
So, are you one of the best? Here is a list of elements you need to have to be top-notch.
1. Know how to analyze copy and give yourself direction.
In addition to the written direction that you’re given, it’s important to know how to pick apart a script to see what it’s saying. Being able to identify transitions to compare one thing to another and convey the difference between a problem to a solution is key.
2. Know how to act with your voice.
You have to know how to make choices and execute your choices. It’s not about just reading words well. You actually have to act with your voice to sound connected to the message that you’re conveying.
3. Be good at following written directions.
Many of your auditions will be home reads. You’ll be given very specific directions to keep your home read uniform to the organization of a casting session. Take the directions seriously. For instance, you might be told how many takes, how to slate your name, and which takes to put on the same wave file.
4. Don’t over-direct your auditions.
On all your home read auditions you have to know how to direct yourself. Be aware, if you’re over editing your final audition submission, your read will be “doctored up” and will not truthfully reflect ability.
5. Know how to be directed by a session director.
When you’re booked, it’s expected that you have the ability to be directed quickly with complex nuances. The studio costs are high and the writer, art director, or producer directing you have a certain amount of time put aside for the booking. If you can’t take direction, they will not want to use you again. If you cause them to go over-time, it will be very costly.
6. Have a great demo reel.
Your reel should reflect your best work and have the right energy with quick, smooth transitions. It must start strong and end strong. Don’t include any mediocre reads.
7. Show up to be remembered in a positive way.
If you’re picked to come into a casting director’s office to audition, show up with confidence. Know how to take direction and be happy that you’re part of a selected group. Be on time, as the casting sessions are scheduled specifically for time to direct you. Be in a good mood and be nice to everyone.
8. Be flexible and communicate clearly regarding avails, bookings, and conflicts.
Avails can change several times. There are many reasons for this which usually have to do with coordinating client and studio availability. When accepting an avail, take it seriously. The good thing about VO is that you can make several recordings in one day. TV bookings usually take two hours and radio one and a half hours per spot. Many times when I’m giving out avails, I’m informed someone else has the talent on avail for the same day. That does not mean you’ll lose the job. We then start honing the time down to morning or afternoon with the intentional outcome for the talent to have both bookings on the same day.