How To Hold Voiceover Auditions For Your Project May 9, 2019 17:56:29 GMT -8 h0m3st4r and Ruby J like this
Post by LadyStardust on May 9, 2019 17:56:29 GMT -8
If you’re producing or creating content that needs voiceover, you might feel overwhelmed when it comes to how exactly to go about recruiting voice actors for your project. Have no fear, we’re here to help!
Preparing & Posting the Audition
Step 1: Assess whether or not your project is ready for VO.
Voices tend to be one of the later assets to be added in especially for something like a game. Many people rush into voice casting too soon when they don’t even have scripts ready for their project! At the bare minimum, you should have a finished or close-to-finished script for at least your first episode/installment, have other contributors lined up if needed (animators, artists, programmers) and have descriptions of the characters you need to cast.
Step 2: Decide on your budget for VO.
If this is a passion project with little to no budget that you’re not expecting to make money on, you may request volunteer actors in one of the unpaid sections. If you are expecting this to be a commercial endeavor, it’s good to compensate your entire creative team, which includes the voice talent. You can reference our Indie Rate Guide for a general idea of what you might expect to offer as payment. Keep in mind that in general, the more you are willing to pay, the larger amount and higher caliber of auditions you are going to receive. We recommend being standard and transparent with the rate offered rather than making each actor “bid” with their own rates.
Step 3: Make a list of the characters you need voices for.
Names, pictures (if possible), general age range, any specific vocal traits you have in mind (for example: accents), and a brief description of each character’s personality/role in the story. You don’t want to overwhelm actors with unrelated backstory, but a short paragraph with a little information on each character can help the actors come up with a fitting portrayal.
Step 4: Pick 3-5 lines for each character that voice actors can use to audition with.
If you’ve followed Step 1, you should have a script for your project ready to go. Pick out a few lines for each character, preferably those that show a range of emotion (you want the actors chosen to be able to portray all facets of the character). Do NOT make them read the entire script just for the audition—-this is a waste of time if they don’t book the part. Do NOT make them improvise the lines, even if it’s a fan project.
Step 5: Decide on a deadline for auditions.
You can read more about deadlines here, but in short: A deadline means that any voice actor interested has until that date to submit, after which point no more auditions will be accepted. We recommend allowing one week for paid projects and two weeks for unpaid projects, but obviously some projects will require a quicker turnaround. You can always extend the deadline if you don’t find what you’re looking for, or shorten (with proper notice) if you get far more submissions than expected. Please be professional and courteous by adhering to your deadline—-don’t cast “as soon as you find the right fit”!
Step 6: Write up a proper audition post for your project.
You can reference our template here as an example. Your audition post should include the following information:
- A little bit about your project
- Descriptions of each character you are casting
- Audition lines for each character (as mentioned above)
- Pay rate (if applicable)
- Any special labeling/formatting instructions, if desired (example: “Please label all submissions as Character Name - Your Name.mp3”)
- Your contact information for where to send auditions (preferably an email address)
- Deadline for submissions
Step 7: Now that you’ve made your audition post, share it online.
Here are some ideas for where to post:
- Our forums and Discord server
- Casting Call Club
- Twitter and Facebook (you can link to a Google Doc of your audition, or link to your VAC forum post)
Making Your Selections
So your deadline passes and chances are you’ve got a wide selection of auditions to choose from. How do you go about the actual casting process?
Step 1: Review the auditions received.
Some people prefer to listen to auditions as they come in, while others prefer to wait until everything comes in and then listen all at once. Note that you do not need to give any feedback or response aside from optionally replying to each email just to confirm that you’ve received their audition.
Step 2: Note which auditions stand out to you for each character and mark them accordingly.
You may likely hear more than one audition you like for each character, while others will miss the mark entirely or have sound quality that is too poor to be considered. When you hear an audition you like, you can either write down the name, move the file to a “considering” folder, or my personal favorite—-marking the file name with an asterisk * to denote that this particular audition was good and you’d like to come back to it later.
Step 3: Re-review your selections to narrow it down to your preferred candidate for each role.
In some cases, this won’t be necessary—-there may be one audition that stands out clearly as exactly what you’ve envisioned for the character. But many times, you’ll be debating between the top three or so candidates per role and you’ll want to listen again to determine your final selection.
Step 4: If you absolutely cannot decide between several actors for a certain role, you may optionally consider holding a callback.
Let’s say you have three candidates for the lead role in your project who all performed equally well and have similar vocal tones, and you’re having trouble making a decision. One option to do in this case is to send a BCC email (or individual emails) to each of the actors you are considering and let them know you’d like them to do a callback audition with some additional lines from the script. You can also provide some further feedback and direction for the callback if there’s a small adjustment you’d like to hear in the performance based on their initial audition.
Step 5: Get your final cast list together, including email addresses.
You can make a simple text document noting your pick for each character and that person’s contact information. This is a good idea particularly with larger cast lists so that you can be organized and easily find this information when it comes time to send out scripts. You may edit your audition post to indicate auditions have been closed, but you DO NOT need to post the cast list publicly until it comes time for a formal announcement about the project.
Step 6: E-mail your cast members to offer them the roles.
Example: “Hello Kate, I’m pleased to inform you that you have been offered the role of Nadia. If you accept, please sign and return the attached contract at your earliest convenience, after which I will send you the script so you may get started recording.” (Note: A contract is a good idea for projects involving a significant amount of money being exchanged. They are not necessary for volunteer projects where no one is getting compensated.) You DO NOT need to send "rejection emails" to those who did not book the role.
Step 7: Once you have any necessary confirmations, it’s time to distribute the scripts!
E-mail your cast with the scripts and any specific instructions for recording. It’s also a great idea to include a deadline for when you expect to receive the lines. Should any of your cast members turn out to “ghost” you, it’s a good idea to send a follow-up email reminding them. If all else fails, check out our thread on recasts.
Here’s what NOT to do…
- DON’T automatically cast the first people to turn something in. Not only is this unfair to everyone else who planned to audition, you’ll run into trouble if a submission you like better comes along soon after. Set a reasonable deadline, review all the submissions, and THEN cast!
- DON’T simply post on social media or elsewhere saying “I need voice actors”. You’ll likely either get next to nothing, or a flood of submissions from people who may or may not fit what you’re actually looking for. Be specific!
- DON’T cast someone over another more suitable candidate simply because they have more social media followers and you are hoping they’ll promote your project or its funding endeavors.
- DON’T make your actors improvise if it won’t be required for the final script! “Say something you think would fit” is a major turnoff for actors and gives off the impression that you aren’t prepared for your project and don’t know what you’re doing. Read more on this here.
- DON’T make your actors write an “application” on why they want the role. A good audition should speak for itself.
- DON’T give someone false hope by replying saying things like “your audition was wonderful! I’m almost sure you’ll get the part!” This creates a very awkward situation if an audition you like better happens to come in afterward, and sets the original actor up for disappointment.
- DON’T make people add you on a messaging service or join your Discord server just to audition. Auditions can and should be conducted through e-mail. Not everyone uses Discord or wants to join a server for a project they might not even book, plus there is the added hassle of coordinating schedules. If you’re really worried about lots of auditions blowing up your mailbox, you can set up a shared Dropbox/Drive folder for auditions.
Got any further questions? Please feel free to ask here, and a community member will be happy to help!
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