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Lessons from a Casting Call


Liz Atherton, Casting Director

As voice actors, we often wonder about the mysteries of the other side of the glass.  The majority of the time, after we submit an audition, we never hear what happened.  We don’t know much about who listened, what they thought, or what we could do better.  For all we know the audition fell into a deep dark bottomless pit never to be seen again.  As

VO Bosses, wouldn’t it be great if we could take a peek behind the curtain?  Well, we did exactly that! During our four-part series, casting agent Liz Atherton and I invited you in on the whole process!  From audition to casting to awarding the gig, we kept everything completely transparent, giving you some great lessons along the way.  Here are the biggest takeaways.

Listen before you speak.

I’m going to bury the lead here.  Pay attention to the directions.  Really.  Full stop.

The directions for this audition were as follows: 

  • Please slate with your name, the script, and role you’re auditioning for.

  • Please only read for one role and provide two takes of the same script. 

Simple right?  Well, you would be surprised that out of the 73 auditions submitted a large number of them didn’t follow directions.  They either read for two different roles, didn’t slate correctly, or just added extra chat at the beginning of the read.  Some people only submitted one take.  Here’s the deal, a casting agent will skip over you, no matter how good you read, if you can’t follow directions.  If they can’t trust you to follow directions from the start, then if you were to book the job, they wouldn’t have a high degree of confidence that you would follow directions then.  Casting agents are busy, really busy. They have so many auditions to go through, they are looking for any reason to narrow down their choices.  Don’t give them a reason before you even read.

Sound on Sound

Another thing that became apparent quickly was audio quality.  The industry is leaning more and more towards having actors record from home.  In these uncertain times, going into a studio for a face-to-face recording session isn’t necessarily practical.  This means it’s more important than ever to pay attention to the quality of audio you are producing.  If you find yourself unsure if your audio is up to snuff, get it checked out by a professional.  Things to listen for are appropriate volume levels, reverb or echo from your room, popping or sibilance, or just background noise.  Again, these are things that will cause a casting agent to quickly eliminate you from possibly booking the job. 

Variety is the Spice of Life

Another thing we learned from this process is that if given the opportunity for two takes, use them wisely.  When a casting agent requests two takes on a read they are looking for variety and range.  In several of the auditions, both takes sounded fairly identical.  The actor failed to deliver two different interpretations of the script, and just repeated the script twice.  Each take should sound unique and highlight your range.  But be careful, you have to remember that range is more than just having each take sound different.  You need to create different intentions for each read.  If a casting agent sees that you can pivot and act, they are more likely to move you forward to the next round.

Keep it Brief

One thing that all the participants learned in this process is just how much time it takes to listen to ALL of the auditions.  It takes a long time and a lot of energy.  When you get the opportunity to listen to 72 auditions, you appreciate just how hard an agent works.  The lesson here is to help the agent by keeping your audition brief and professional.  Don’t add extra chatty bits before your read. Get straight to the point.  You don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.

Winning isn’t Everything

Every audition opportunity is a chance to be remembered.  Regardless of whether you book the job or not, you are building a reputation with your agent.  One of the qualities that can help you stand out the right way is taking a risk with your script interpretation.  In our process, out of all the auditions submitted, there was one that stood out as unique.  This actor made a choice to read as a character in one of his takes.  One thing for sure, out of all the 73 auditions, it stood out.  After listening to dozens of auditions, they can start to blend together.  Using one of your takes to do something unique can wake up an agent, and they’ll remember your name.  Even though you might not book the job this time, next time you’ll be on their radar as directable and confident. 

For more details and to listen to our episode series below:

Lessons Learned

Getting a peek inside the casting process is invaluable.  Having even the smallest understanding of what a casting agent goes through will elevate your professionalism with all of your auditions.  As an actor it’s easy to forget that voice over is a business.  Success in business is created through reliable and professional partnerships.  Agents aren’t looking for stars they are looking for partners.  So go out there with this new insight and rock your business like a boss!  A VO BOSS!

Much love and Keep on rockin' your biz.



About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold.  Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.  


1 Comment

So, so helpful! Thank YOU!!!

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