Tips for Online Auditioning Success (examples included!)

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    Wonder what it takes to nail an audition? How do casting directors know that you’ve got your mind and heart in a role? Acclaimed casting director Hugh Edwards of Gravy for the Brain in the UK shares how you can approach a casting spec to provide a read worthing listening to. Hear 3 poor examples of auditions so you know what not to do, as well as a perfect audition for you to learn from and apply.

    Links from today’s show:

    Gravy for the Brain
    HighScore Productions
    Social Media Contacts
    Twitter: @Hugh_Edwards, @GravyForBrain

    Your Instructor This Week:

    Hugh Edwards of Gravy for the BrainHugh Edwards is a voice-director and casting-director. He set up High Score Productions Ltd in 2004, a company specializing in audio-outsourcing to the broadcasting and gaming industries. As well as successfully running two studios, HSP have composed for over 100 television shows and worked on over 160 games plus countless other projects from radio to movies and movie trailers. Hugh’s work has been nominated for no less than 4 awards for Best Audio Outsourcing at the gaming industry’s Develop Awards and a TIGA award for best Service Provider.

    Transcript

    Announcer: Welcome to Voice Over Experts brought to you by voices.com, the number one voice over market place.
    Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent.
    It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home at your own pace. It is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
    Hugh: Hello. My name’s Hugh Edwards and I’m a casting director and a voice director. I own two companies. The first one is a company called High Score Productions, and High Score Productions primarily deals with voice recording for computer games and for televisions, so for example, I’ve done games like Harry Potter for Kinect, I’ve done lots of things like Fallout 3, Ironman 2, Captain America. There’s a huge list which you can see on my website at high-score.co.uk.
    I also run a company called Gravy for the Brain, and Gravy for the Brain is a company that specializes in voice over training on a global basis. We do – we do local versions of courses, but primarily our main focus is on online training globally. We also have a specific product called the Elite Voice Over Mentoring Forum where myself and my business partner, Peter Dickson, who is arguably the most sought-after voice talent on the planet, and that’s actually no exaggeration. If you – if you look him up on Google, Peter Dickson you’ll see all of his achievements. He’s voiced over 30,000 commercials for example.
    But for myself, I wanted to just have a quick chat with you today about voice over casting, and specifically voice over casting at voices.com, and on play-to-play sites and subscription sites. This is something that I do quite a lot, when I’m doing games. And we’ve actually developed a training course specifically based on this, which you can find at gravyforthebrain.com. And this is, I guess, a kind of excerpt from it, really to talk about how to approach – this is just one module of the course – but how to approach online casting, P2P casting, subscription site casting, however you want to term it.
    We have a specific phrase for it which is bespoke clip-based casting. And if you think about that really, there are already two different – or three different types of casting, I suppose. There’s the traditional, normal acting school kind of casting, which is face-to-face casting in a room, and then for voice over artists there’s show reel or demo reel based casting, which is where you send in a specific demo reel just for one job. And then of course there is this one I’m talking about, which is live voice over casting, or bespoke clip-based casting.
    So here’s a little excerpt from that course. I hope you find it really useful. If you’d like to get in touch with me, you can get in touch with me at hugh_edwards – that’s H-U-G-H underscore E-D-W-A-R-D-S at graveyforthebrain.com, and go have a look at some of our stuff there. Here’s the content. I hope you like it.
    So in this we’ll look at how to interpret briefs, exploring the idea of offering alternate versions of a performance. Put simply, this means that if there’s ambiguity to a brief, which 9 times out of 10 there is, you should deliver the script in different styles, in different scenarios, with different emotion or different accents, to give the casting director an idea of your range, and to cover all bases in terms of interpreting the brief.
    You should always offer alternate versions because who says your idea is exactly what the casting director is after? If you give just one version you’ve basically decided for the director how this clip should sound whilst offering no illustration of your range.
    So here’s another casting call that we can use as a case study. What you’re told is this. This is a character role. It’s for a video game. The title is Battleground, and the character brief is army type, quite senior, authoritative.
    Again, it’s not a very comprehensive brief. You haven’t been told the situation the character is in. Where they’re from. What their emotion is. But we can look for inspiration in all of the information you’re given. The title is Battleground. So there are lots of different scenarios within a battle that you could explore. For example you could perform the script as if in the middle of gunfire, which means you’d need to shout over the noise. You could do a version where you’re whispering, as if you’re trying not to be heard by the enemy troops. You might do a version where the character is been injured and is in pain. Another thing you haven’t been told is what nationality they are. So if you’re good at accents you could offer a couple of versions of different accents to show your range.
    Here are some examples of the voice reels I might receive for the is casting call where they haven’t put in much thought about it and have just offered one version.
    VO examples: Enemy troops are over the hill. Get down! They’ve seen us! Run!
    Enemy troops are over the hill. Get down! They’ve seen us! Run!
    Enemy troops are over the hill. Get down! They’ve seen us! Run!
    Enemy troops are over the hill. Get down! They’ve seen us! Run!
    Interviewer: You should get the picture that they’re all basically the same. There’s no thought to what kind of situation the character might be in, or the different emotions these lines could be delivered with. There’s no dramatic emphasis, no real intention at all, and there’s only one way that they’ve delivered the line. So they’re taking the chance that their performance is exactly what the casting director is looking for.
    Now here’s an example of a voice reel that would stand out above the crowd.
    VO examples.: Enemy troops are over the hill. Get down! They’ve seen us! Run!
    Enemy troops are over the hill. Get down! They’ve seen us! Run!
    Ach. Enemy troops are over the hill. Get down! They’ve seen us! Run!
    Hugh: So this VO has thought about different situations for their character and combined it with different accents. You’ll notice that he’s combined the different situations and emotions with different accents, so that there are three performances which effectively demonstrate six examples of this guy’s range.
    This is a clever way of going about it, because you want to show as much good stuff as you can to a casting director in as short a period of time.
    On occasion I’ve had literally thousands of submissions I’ve had to listen to for projects. An example is the Harry Potter video game for which I did the casting and the voice direction. There were about 40 roles to cast, and for each of those there were probably an average of 200 audition reels for me and my casting team to listen to. Unfortunately, with this volume of clips to get through, I don’t have time to listen to everyone’s full recording. It’s sad to say, but it’s true.
    The reality is that I listen to a few seconds of most clips before I know whether I can skip on to the next. If I’m going to be impressed, you have to catch my attention quickly right from the beginning.
    So bearing this in mind, give me as much as you can in as short a time as possible.
    Even if a casting director does listen to your whole reel, remember that the rule for the length of your clip is usually no longer than two minutes. So don’t go overboard giving millions of different versions that might make your clip too long. Particularly if there are quite a few lines you might need to be creative in the way that you demonstrate your capabilities and alternate versions without repeating the script lots of times and making your clip too long.
    You mustn’t save the best version till the end. Get your best work in at the beginning to catch the ear of the casting director before they skip on. If your voice reel builds so that your best stuff is at the end, you’ve missed the point. You’re giving the casting directors too much credit for having enough time to listen all the way through your reel. And I’m actually more likely to carry on and listen to more of your reel if I’m impressed from the very start.
    Another important thing to note about the clip that we just heard, is that each version follows the brief, but shows a range of interpretations of the brief. It’s important not to go off piece and deviate from the brief, but offering different versions that fit the brief shows your ability to use your voice creatively, and with some imagination. This will help you stand out.
    Apart from this, giving different versions shows that you have taken the time and effort to think through your performance, and that alone will set you apart from most of what the casting director hears. I know that from experience.
    It can be harder to give alternate versions when you get a more comprehensive brief, but it’s still a good idea because there’s usually at least some room for interpretation.
    So thanks very much. I really hope you enjoyed that, and I look forward to doing more podcasts on voices.com.
    Thanks very much, my name again was Hugh Edwards and our company was Gravy for the Brain at gravyforthebrain.com.
    Bye, bye.
    Announcer: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this voices.com podcast, visit the Voice Over Experts show notes at podcast.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed. If you’re a first-time listener you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes podcast directory, or by visiting podcast.voices.com.
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    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

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