It’s easy to think that an unsuccessful audition is a failure.
But what if the audition is the goal? And what success is determined by the creative energy and expression you put into the audition alone?
A large percentage of every voiceover actor’s time is spent auditioning. It’s a part of life for many creatives, yet how many see it as fulfilling in and of itself?
Of course, every creative wants to book the job. To get paid (no matter how meager that pay is) for all the training, preparation, heart, and soul you’ve poured into your craft. As a voiceover actor, I dream about landing a role in a Pixar movie where I play a quirky, emotional, vulnerable, and interesting character. That would be amazing, and a dream gig!
But that dream doesn’t mean that nothing else will be satisfying. In fact, I’ve found that it’s possible to feel creatively fulfilled from the audition itself. How? Here are four reasons:
- It’s asynchronous. When my agent sends me an audition request, I usually have at least 24 hours to submit (and often 2 or 3 times longer). That means that I can carve out time to audition whenever it fits into my day. It’s a nice little creative break.
- It’s bite-sized. Audition scripts and sides (the information you get about character and context that is additional to the script itself) are typically short. I’ve had auditions that are just 2 lines, but the average is about 10-15. That means that you can dip in and out of the character, and there’s time to try out lots of different ideas, as each take is so short. The time investment to try each character idea is limited, opening up possibilities for experimentation.
- There’s no time to agonise. Audition turnaround time means that there is little time to pontificate over whether you did the right thing. Prepare, record, edit, submit.
- Preparation is fun! A lot of creativity comes in the way you interpret the script. You definitely need to trust your own instincts about who the character is, and what the client is looking for. Just because certain character traits or celebrity references are cited in the sides, it doesn’t mean you need to be locked into those. You can stand out from the pack by doing something different.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. There are some definite creativity-squashing aspects to the auditioning process, too:
- No feedback. I thrive on feedback. With auditions, though, you’re usually recording your read and sending it into the void. You probably won’t hear anything back unless you’re chosen. So it can be difficult to know what you can do differently next time. So it’s a good idea to work with a coach, who can give you that feedback and improve your performance.
- Unpaid. Sadly, auditions themselves don’t pay anything! So it can feel like a lot of output, for no financial return. That’s why it’s important to honour the creative enjoyment as a reward.
- Invisible competition. You have no idea what other artists submitted for their auditions. So you really don’t know how you stacked up. As a way to get an insight into what the client was looking for, I sometimes seek out the final radio spot or ad I auditioned for, to hear the artist that landed the job.
Overall, the creative benefits of the audition outweigh the downfalls. If you embrace every audition as a chance to have fun, explore a character, and practice your craft, then it’s always going to be a creatively fulfilling endeavour.
P.S: I have a new commercial voiceover demo! Listen here.