Yeah, They Went with THAT Guy...
Casting Realities Within The Voiceover and Advertising Business
“The spot I auditioned for came on last night and it was completely different from what they originally wanted in the specs. How did he/she get the job and not ME?! WTF!”
In this ever-changing and unpredictable industry, some of us voice over artists often have to learn the hard way. A spot we auditioned for months ago finally aired but with a different direction on the copy AKA not the way “we” read for it. Or we booked the job, recorded and then a few weeks later it’s someone else’s voice, or the network CEO’s nephew is an aspiring voice talent, etc. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, I offer you some food for thought. Rejection only makes us stronger.
While the hardships are sometimes more noticeable than the rewards (which are great btw!) these are some of factors that are beyond our control. Time and again, I hear or see a commercial I auditioned for that was completely different than the original specs. Sometimes the interpretation was similar to how I read for it but the timbre was slightly different or an older voice perhaps. For me it happened a few years ago. I had booked a demo session for an beverage company and found out while I was out in LA visiting friends that they wanted me to come in and read asap. I was smart enough to know that this was very different from actually “booking” the gig. I was to be paid the hourly union rate for just the session. If I booked it, the rate would obviously be more substantial.
In the demo session, the producer told me that they liked my audition because I wasn’t trying to push the read too much. That I was giving them a conversational style as if I were “talking to a group of friends” for a very special occasion. They also liked my tone and that it wasn’t too announcery either. After banging out 20 or so takes of one or two lines, I finished in just under 30 minutes. I walked away feeling golden and confident. As far as I was concerned, they loved me. There was no one like me for this job.
Well, a few weeks later, while browsing YouTube, I went to the page of that particular brand. I pressed play and the video unfolded much the way I remember the spot being described….. Until the end. It was not my voice but rather an older, British, pompous-sounding version of what I had read. Basically, an ‘Announcer.’ Isn’t this what they didn’t want?! The truth is: they don’t know what they want. Some last minute doubt settles in and an executive decision forces everyone to re-examine their campaign. I was certainly upset, paranoid, and felt terrible. But seemed to get over it a lot more quickly than I expected. Why? Probably because I knew that my voice over career was just starting and I had a lot to learn, so I was open to the possibilities. Most of the time it’s easier to be encumbered by negative thoughts: 'I’m worthless, talentless, and don’t have what it takes to play with the big dogs’. And while at first that may seem true, most of the time it’s our ruminating that makes it worse than it actually is. While it may be very competitive for a budding voice talent to secure a major campaign, going up against several other more experienced pro’s, it doesn’t mean it’s over or that the worst is true. Later I thought to myself, 'wow, just to be considered for this is an honor.’ And I was right.
Often we think we don’t have what it takes. We think 'But they’re going to go for the Announcer Guy…they always do don’t they? Well, sometimes they do. And they haven’t figured out how to sell a non-celebrity on a major campaign who can still sound conversational and normal without it being over the top. Maybe the original talent passed on the material. Maybe they changed their minds about the campaign entirely. The point is, you never know and most things after the audition, aren’t worth the energy to whine and bicker about.
Know that it is your job to do what’s required in that room. Trust your instincts, be yourself and, simply, walk away when it’s done. Be ok with what you did and when doubt seeps through the cracks, use it to your advantage on the next audition. And the next.
Photo Credit: Gregory Thorp 2013