Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

November 3, 2010

Audition Reviewing Service? “What was I thinking!?”

Filed under: Auditioning — connieterwilliger @ 8:32 am

I just got an email from Sound Advice (Kate McClanaghan) introducing a new service to help beginning VO practice auditioning in the vacuum of their home studios. Basically, they randomly email you some fresh scripts on a weekly basis, give you a deadline (like real auditions), so that you can practice in your home studio. These are not real auditions for real jobs, just practice.

I downloaded the audio clip explaining the service and was suprised to hear that they are not going to actually critique the read – just the mechanics of the audition – did you slate correctly, meet the deadline, edit cleanly, etc. Yes, I realize that the “read” is subjective – to a point. But there are times when a head slap really helps clarify what the copy is saying – someone to say “What were you thinking!?” It can be hard to slap yourself.

So, what if that kind of service existed for REAL jobs – someone to do a quick reality check on the delivery of the words? Is there someone you would trust to send your audition scripts to for review and critique before you hit the send button to submit it to your agent or to the P2P site? Particularly the P2P sites.

If occasional on-going coaching helps us hear ourselves more objectively, could a quick audition critique before we submit be helpful? If so, how much would you pay for such a service? How often would you use such a service, if at all?

Even if agents are culling through auditions and only forwarding what they feel are the best of the bunch on to the client, they rarely have time to provide feedback. Of course, your feedback may be that you get fewer auditions or are dropped from a roster.

At this point in my career, I actually get to hear a lot of the spots I audition for on the air and can compare the audition I submitted with what ends up on the air. And most of the time I know that my submission was indeed competitive. Sometimes I have been left scratching my head – what ended up on the air wasn’t even close to what was “described” in the audition specs. And, of course, the vast majority of the auditions go into a black hole.

So, would a good slap on the back of the head prior to hitting the send button be beneficial?



  1. Connie,
    Living a little bit on both sides of the glass, gives one an interesting perspective on this sort of thing. There is a small amount of the subjective, such as mechanics and following basic directions and then there is the objective. Tastes and goals vary wildly. As a talent wrangler for lots of clients, I am often amazed when they pass over my top 5 or so picks and go after someone I wouldn’t even consider.

    Perhaps the simple truth is that critiquing a read in this manner simply sets up the critic for lots of bad rebuttal.

    In a recent email I received from Marc Cashman as a follow up to an invitation to audition he sent out en mass, he indicated that of 200 auditions he received, a scant 20 of them were either able to follow the basic instructions, such as naming conventions or proper file format, had proper sound quality, etc. This it would presume didn’t touch upon the “quality of read”. If 80% of the people responding, most of whom who have had experience or at least considerable training were unable to accomplish the basics of submitting, then it might seem the critique you are describing will serve as a great tool to quite a few. I am not so sure though that one needs to have their mechanics checked over a prolonged period of time.

    Comment by J.S. Gilbert — November 3, 2010 @ 8:51 am

  2. Thanks J.S., as usual your experience on both sides of the glass is helpful.

    But don’t you ever wish you had someone listening in and giving you a tiny bit of direction sometimes when you are auditioning in the solitude of your booth?

    I still on occasion make some talent selections and I often want to make a few comments on why I chose not to send something on to for final review, but time doesn’t permit. However, I have asked people to resend me something with “more” of one sort of read – these are not custom auditions – more like custom compilations of existing material.

    And I think you meant to flip-flop “objective” and “subjective” in the first paragraph – right? The mechanics are more objective – the read is the subjective part.

    (This instant communication can make for some strange conversations – just yesterday I said “public,” when I meant to say “private” in a Facebook discussion.)

    Comment by connieterwilliger — November 3, 2010 @ 9:15 am

  3. Yep, I did flip flop subjective and objective there. I’m glad my meaning didn’t get reversed.

    As for the listening in part, you bet I do wish I had some decent directors that could give me some instant and direct feedback when I audition. There are various industry people that I am lucky enough to be able to share my auditions with on ocassion who will give me feedback and explain the why’s and wherefore’s. One interesting thing that happens with some frequency, is when a producer will say something to the effect of “We really thought you were perfect for this campaign, but our client went with someone else”. Sometimes making it seem like the voice talent that was chosen was in their mind “undeserved” or “unsuited” for the part.

    If you would like Connie, you can feel free to send me any recordings you have done, along with the casting specs and I am happy to chime in with my thoughts. If I have any qualified friends hanging out, I might be able to get one of them to chime in. Unfortunately it won’t be like hearing back from the actual writer.

    I too find that so much of what I do these days is in veritable isolation, and I miss not only the comradery that we had in this profession just a few years back, but also the ability to grow and learn from direct contact with others whose opinions we appreciated and fed off of.

    There is a forum that has individuals posting auditions and receiving peer cristicism, but what “body of experience” do any of the people offering the critique truly have? It often simply boils down to the proverbial “attaboy”. Additionally, I have personally found that unpopular opinions or advice that may lead anyone to believe that the audition you are critiquing was less than stellar can lead to you being branded as negative or as a “hater” or who knows what.

    In my comment here, I was just trying to explain that I thought there was validity in them offering a service that excluded the actual “craft” from the read and offered up a plausable explanation for why they may have chosen to structure things the way they did.

    Realistically, the best critique is when you do finally get to hear the actual person who booked the job on the radio or tv and then can see how it relatesd to the audition you turned in.

    For the record, I hate the increased isolation of this profession and I much prefer to work in a professional studio with a good engineer and a good director.

    Being able to share ideas and communicate with people like you via the internet is a big help.

    Comment by j.s. gilbert — November 5, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

  4. Connie – I’m so with you! So many times I feel my auditions are just falling over that event horizon into the black hole of nothingness… I got that email from SoundAdvice as well.

    A while ago I heard about a well-known voice over coach that was offering audition feedback and direction for $15 per. It sounded like a great idea…but now I can’t remember who it was! I’ve been looking around the net and can’t seem to find her again…I think she was from NY maybe? If I do I’ll let you know! :)

    Comment by Adam Verner — November 19, 2010 @ 7:18 am

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