Voice over casting: things to do, mistakes to avoid

Voice over casting can be a frustrating, opaque obstacle course, or something simple and painless. Here's how.

To begin with, there are different types of casting. The first is casting by demo. The client (production company, advertiser, etc.) contacts your agent, a casting director or goes on the web themselves, listens to demos and makes their choice. In this case, you'll never know you've been on a casting if you're not chosen, and if you are cast, you're contacted, you're booked, you do the job, you get paid, end of story.

Voice over castingThe second type of casting is an audition. You are asked to record an extract from a script. You record it and send it in.
A word of advice: never record the entire script, unless you know the customer who contacts you well and have complete confidence in them. Why would you do this? Because there's nothing to stop the client using your recording without paying you anything, and obviously without your consent. It's rare, but it happens.
And sometimes they're just not castings. You're asked to record an entire script that's a bit long, and your audition and the dozens of others that the 'caster' will have received will then be used to develop an AI model. Of course, you will never hear from this client again.

Third scenario: casting published on the web, asking you for a demo. Something that many voice actors don't realise: when you're in charge of a casting, you often have to send your client a pre-selection in a very short space of time.
So if you're asked to email your demo, NEVER send a link, you'll be instantly blacklisted. Do EXACTLY what is requested: nomenclature, file type, tagged or not... If nothing is specified: mp3 and only mp3.
There are several possible organisational reasons for these specific requests. But it can also be a test: if you can't follow simple instructions, how will you behave in a session? Will you be able to listen and follow directions? And that's the reason behind the instant blacklist thing.

What mistakes should be avoided?

If you're asked for a link to your demo, it's not a link to a Youtube, Vimeo or Dailymotion video (really? Dailymotion???), a clip on Soundcloud, or to the home page of your website. It's a DIRECT link to your downloadable demo, such as my demo voice-over ad.

If you don't have this option on your site, I would advise you very, VERY strongly to implement it. Why should you do this? Because when you receive a link that's just the home page of a website, you spend an inordinate amount of time browsing to find the demo that corresponds to the request, and that you need to be able to download to send to your customer. So we don't do it, because we don't have an inordinate amount of time.

As for the Youtube links etc., they are useless: even if you really like an interpretation, you'll understand that we don't have the time to download the audio and send it to your client...

silverAnd what about the money?

Some voice over castings offer a rate. Others ask you for a quote. Even though I prefer to be offered a rate, there's nothing scandalous about asking for a price, and it's common practice. But it's often a case of casting by rate rather than casting by talent. And if you offer a professional rate, you'll never get that casting, because a plethora of mediocre amateurs, unable to sell themselves on talent, will undercut pro rates and offer to do the job for a tenth of what you'd offer (some even go so far as to offer to work for free - I talk about this in my article Free Voice Over - At What Price?)

We have to accept this fact. With the advent of AI, which is even cheaper (and often better) than amateurs, the latter will eventually return to where they came from before coming to bottom feed in our profession - a subject I cover in my article Voice Over And Artificial Intelligence.

Invariably, the result will not live up to the customer's expectations, and sometimes they will come back to you to give you the job. In that case, make sure you get paid before delivery.

Personally, I publish my voice over rates. I'd encourage you to do the same, as it avoids wasting time with people who want to have their cake and eat it too, for a meal ticket and a packet of crisps. I also talk about the relationship between rates and professionalism in my article Hands Off The Loot, which I highly recommend you read.

But which demo?

Voice-over demos are based on codes. If you don't master them and send a 5-minute medley of adverts/institutions/narration/autopromos/characters, you might as well shout loud and clear that you're an amateur. To avoid this rather unfortunate pitfall, I invite you to read my article on the subject of voice over demos.

Once you've answered the casting call, what do you do?

Nothing. Once the casting has been sent, forget about it. It's natural, human, to want to know whether you've been chosen or not. But resist the temptation to follow up by sending the client an email, or even worse, by phoning them.

Sometimes they take the time to email you back even if you haven't been cast. But this is rare: they have received a large number of demos, and generally don't have the time to contact everyone who took part in the casting. If you are chosen, trust me, they will contact you. And if you chase them, trust me, they'll never contact you again.

Free bonus tip: store your demos on your smartphone. That way, even when you're away from your computer, you can email them.

I hope you've found this article useful. I'm sure you're an altruistic and generous person, so if you think your colleagues could also benefit from it, please share it with them, I'd be very grateful too. And don't forget to subscribe to this voice over blog to be notified when I publish new articles. Don't hesitate to comment on this article and if you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them!