Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

December 15, 2012

Advice for Producers is Also Good Advice for Talent

Filed under: Auditioning — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:56 am

Just ran across this blog post by Marc Scott cross-posted on Voice123. It is aimed at the people seeking voice talent, however it is good advice for both the seeker and the seekee! In fact, as a user of the online casting sites myself, I have a similar set of guidelines as I decide which projects to audition for.

One of the biggies for me is a poorly written script. As a long time award-winning scriptwriter and corporate producer before jumping into voiceover full-time, I wrote many many scripts for other talent to read. A well-written script is ALWAYS easier for the talent to deliver. If you are new to the art of writing a script for someone to verbalize, put your words to the test. Record yourself reading the material aloud before you send it off for auditions. If you have a hard time getting the words out, try to figure out why? Are the sentences too long? Is the script simply a transcription of a white paper? There is a big difference between writing for the eye and writing for the ear. So, when I am deciding what projects to audition for, if I find that a script just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily in a logical and interesting way, then I am likely to pass on the audition. Other factors will come into play of course, but a good script will help you get good auditions from better actors.

“Why Am I Not Receiving Quality Auditions for My Project – Part 1” Part 2 is on his blog as well.

I’m just listing his points here – jump over to his blog to get the details.

  1. Poor Direction

  2. Unclear Budget

  3. Poorly Written Script

  4. Conflicting Information

  5. The Kitchen Sink

  6. Must Read Entire Script

  7. Unrealistic Budget

  8. Unrealistic Timeline

  9. No Pronunciation Guideline

  10. No Script



  1. I actually commented with this on his original post, but for “some reason” my comment didn’t seem to show up. I stated that I agreed with all of his points, with the exception of “reading the entire script”. The idea being that by omitting a sentence or two, altering a few words, or perhaps using the dreaded “watermark”, your audition won’t get ripped off.

    Well, for starters, auditions are “ripped-off” in a sense every day. Many of these auditions are for client pitches, sometimes even for accounts that the auditioner doesn’t even have yet. Even auditions coming in through sources like Voice Bank, Casting directors and talent agents, can’t be vetted to determine if the work is green lighted, yellow lighted or just some fantasy. If the work in question is destined to be done under a union contract, there is actually a rate called the demo rate that is paid to the talent, simply for the privilege of running the audition up the flagpole. Sadly, not enough hirer’s of talent seem to be respecting talent enough these days to do things “right”.

    Otherwise, it’s probably pretty rare that any client would use an audition as actual work without compensating the talent. I think this practice is pretty rare, except perhaps if it’s for a bar mitzvah or something where they feel getting caught is a minimal risk..

    In summary, you are protecting a piece of property that in fact has no value. To you, it’s just another audition. If it did turn out that the client was dumb enough to put it up on the internet, use it in a a commercial, etc, the odds are good that you would find out and I could give you the names of 27 attorneys that would take the case on contingency. It happens, but not too often and in the few cases I’m familiar with, settlements have usually been one million dollars+.

    Personally I could care less and I would have no greater piece of mind knowing that my precious audition was completely secured from the clutches of those unscrupulous clients. There’s no intent to pay anyway.

    On the other hand, as someone who casts, directs and produces talent and who has worked with lots and lots of ad agency creatives, I can tell you that the odds are much greater of your “partial” audition or watermarked audition being tossed in the trash.

    Simply put, the de rigueur today for things such a radio and tv spots and other short form work, say under 90 seconds or so, is that the talent reads it all. They want to hear timing and pacing and inflection and transitions and often need to put the music bed up to the audition, because not all voices can cut through it. Sometimes, if they like a voice enough, but their read is 4 seconds too long, they’ll cut the copy to accommodate them. There are many other reasons why they’ll want to hear the entire audition, but perhaps the main reason for wanting to hear the whole thing is simply because, as the hirer’s, they’re in the drivers seat, and with 3,000 actors for every role, why would they want to bring in someone whose attitude is one of mistrust?

    So, while you continue to protect a worthless bit of audio by altering the audition, watermarking, etc. you severely cut back on your chances of being booked. Granted, not all of the people who hire talent feel this way, but enough do to make you want to question why you may not have booked that last one or 100 auditions.

    This is standard practice, but tends not to get shared. Please don’t blame me, I’m just trying to help out by telling a little hidden truth.

    Comment by J S Gilbert — December 15, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    • While I don’t disagree with what you are saying here, I have to say that I have passed on an audition or two when the “demands” of the potential client just seem – well “too” demanding. In general, I read what is written and don’t give it another thought. And have been pleasantly surprised a number of times when the client lets me know that they loved the audition and there is no need to do any more work – we’ll use the audition file and where do we send the check.

      Comment by connieterwilliger — December 15, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

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