Every time I do casting, I make notes of all the small things I see coming in from obviously newer voice actors. Fresh off a recent casting for a new game from Snowhaven Studios, it felt like a great time to pull together a very beginner actor friendly step by step guide for the process.
Keep in mind that every casting director will do things a little differently, and auditions through P2P and in-studio have their own workflow, as well. Here, we’ll be covering general expectations for more indie studios and remote work.
Finding the Audition
This is the question that I think a lot of actors start with, and the answer is very dependent on what kind of acting or projects you’re interested in pursuing. For professional studio work, you’ve generally met a director or are otherwise on their roster. Those invitations to audition will come to you. If you’re pursuing the VO-as-a-small-business approach, that works more like general sales with things like cold calling and market analysis. But we’ll assume you’re new to character voice acting and you just want to try out for an indie visual novel. That’s great! So how do we track down those kinds of projects?
This particular frontier actually changes pretty frequently as new resources become available and old resources become too bulky or obsolete for their moderators to handle. For now, the following are the most common landscapes that you don’t have to put money into:
|Casting Call Club||Allows any casting director to post anything. Has everything from unpaid fan projects to professional quality productions with the budget to pay.|
|Voice Acting Club||Allows only original works. Unpaid and paid.|
|The Voice Acting Club Discord Server||The chat room version of the forum. Has channels dedicated to aggregating casting calls.|
|Follow tags like #voiceactors etc. as well as individual studios or casting directors who frequently post.|
|Other servers and Faceboook groups||This will require a little research and dipping through rabbit holes because as they can change parameters and mods frequently there’s not a great aggregate of these things. There are communities, however, dedicated to almost every type of media creation including abridging, audio dramas, and indie games.|
Reading/Interpreting the Audition Sides
Generally, you’ll have the project description, instructions for submission, then the lines you need to record. Be very certain before you even think about auditioning that it’s a project that you can put the necessary time into and that you totally understand what’s expected of you. Do your research, look at your calendar, and, while you should never assume you’ll get a part, be ready to go if you should get cast.
Picking Your Character(s)
Every time I’m in charge of an audition, I will invariably come across two conflicting situations: people who were not in any way a good fit for the part they auditioned for and people who I desperately wished had auditioned for a part that they didn’t.
How do you know what you should go out for? This requires you digging into your actor’s toolkit. If you don’t have a toolkit, yet, start working on one. It might be something you have to experiment with, but it really is one of the very first bends in the road on this proverbial journey. The advantage, though, of online auditions over in-person auditions, is that most of the time you have the option of submitting for as many characters as you want. It’s an opportunity to try something outside your metier and see if it lands. You might be surprised. I know I have been.
If that’s the case, then why would you ever want to limit yourself to who you audition for? Most of the time, you probably won’t need to. If you have five different teenage girls in front of you, and you think you can create a distinct voice for each of them, go for it. If you can do multiple ages well, go for it. You may face a moment, though, where you have to make the choice between focusing on five reads and doing them well or ten and they’re not as good as they could be because you simply don’t have the time, energy, or ability to really cultivate a separate approach to each character. You might meet a character that requires a specific accent that you’re not trained in, yet. You could, in theory, take a chance and audition in a different accent, but you may just be wasting yours and the casting director’s time.
Those are decisions you have to make for yourself and can only do in the moment and take it one audition at a time. If you’re not doing in-person auditions, yet, but want to be, familiarity with your strong suit is going to be extremely necessary. In a studio audition, you’ll have maybe twenty minutes to prepare and may only get a chance at one or two characters in your limited audition timeslot. Take advantage of the fact that many of these casting calls give you a lot of time to play around, but know that at some point, if you want to go pro, you’ll have to learn how to do it faster and with more confidence.
Recording Your Audition
Remote recording situations rely on actors having studios they can record in likely with some kind of access to VOIP like Skype or Discord. A lot of times, then, an audition for a part is both for the character and your recording setup. That’s not to say you need to go out and buy a whole bunch of equipment. The trick is more to know how to get the best out of the equipment you already have through space treatment and good recording practices.
This is also why it’s important, though, to make sure you’re auditioning with your optimal space and properly using those good practices. Show a casting director that you know what you’re doing and that you can be relied upon to deliver a quality product.
Be confident. Record your lines in the way the audition instructions say (lines divided into files, however many takes, etc.), and prepare to send them off. You’ll likely want to do a little bit of mastering to make them pop, but that’s a whole different skill set you’ll need to learn.
Submitting the Audition
You’ll be e-mailing in your auditions, submitting via a form, or using CCC’s uploading platform. It’s extremely important that you follow the directions laid out in the casting call when sending in. Below are the submission directions for the game I most recently cast My Sweet Confession.
We can only accept submissions from people over 18+ at this time for contractual reasons. There is no 18+ content, however.
For this project we’re using a contracting platform whose EULA requires it’s users to be over 18.
All lines for a single character should be in the same file. Please send your lines as a mono MP3 file labeled CharacterName_YourName.mp3
Please no more than 2 takes.
I wanted to be able to hear all the lines in one file and just play straight through it. mp3 because it’s a smaller file format and downloads faster. Labeling it with character name first lets me sort the files by character easier so that I can divide them up into sub folders. Two takes, because I want to give room for variance but not get stuck with five takes and, therefore, a bulkier file
You may audition for as many characters as you like.
Keep all files separate. Do not put files in a Zip or Rar folder, please.
I make heavy use of things like mail merge and file auto download systems. Having things labeled properly means the e-mail goes to the right label, doesn’t get caught in the spam filter, and the files attached to it auto-download to the right drive folder, making things so much smoother.
It’s in your best interest to make sure the casting director can easily access and listen to your audition. The easier you can make the casting director’s like, the better.
Now what about things like resumes or demo reels? Most of the time a casting call won’t have any specifics about that, but if they do, abide by them. It’s been my experience that it doesn’t really hurt anything to attach a well-produced reel and resume, but, at the same time, I don’t typically look at extraneous materials until I’ve already made my top round picks based off the audition reads themselves. Some directors, though, like to know whether you have experience or not. Having a website or work aggregate of some sort that you can link to in your e-mail signature certainly creates an easier point of contact and gives you an easy way to show off what you can do if the casting director wants to go looking.
Follow guidelines, and use your best judgement.
What Happens Next?
The four steps of an in-person audition are show up, show off, shut up, get out.
“Shut up” and “get out” are especially important in an online environment where many times the casting director is just a click away. You have to have to have to just set it and forget it, though. Submit and quit thinking about it.
Once a casting call closes, the casting director will then need time to go through all the auditions and make their choices. This may take a day, it may take several, it may take a week, it may take two weeks, it may take longer. There are a whole lot of places where the casting process might get stalled or slowed especially if it’s a big project or it’s understaffed or both. In the end, you’re never really going to know how long you have to wait to find out if you got cast.
You likely won’t get a rejection letter, and you probably won’t get any feedback on your audition whatsoever. You’re not going to hear from the casting director what you did or didn’t do right. And that’s going to suck. It’s also why you have to have such thick skin. How do you get feedback? You engage with the community. You make friends. You find a mentor.
If you are cast, cool! Good job! The casting director will reach out to you, offer you the part, and you can work out the details from there. Make sure you’re checking your e-mails so that you know when this happens.