The Science of Auditioning

Jim Kennelly, producer at Lotas Productions, writes on the science of auditioning

realtime casting is a scienceBlinding them with Science
I love Sci-Fi. I can’t wait to see the films, “The Theory of Everything” by James Marsh and Christopher Nolan’s, “Interstellar”. And I’ve started reading, “You’re Atomic Self” by Curt Stager. It’s about the invisible elements that connect us to everything in the universe!

But today, let’s remind ourselves…

When we audition for voiceovers, we are all scientists.
We can discover new forms of life in our voiceovers…just by mixing a little bit of this and that, again and again, until we have our auditions just the way we like it. Because it’s not the exact recipe that that chef really enjoys. It’s taking little bits of information, mixing it up with our own preferences… and never forgetting to throw in a little bit of improvising. (ex: “What if I just added a little bit of this on the next take?”)

Audition Choices

beakersChoices are something we have to make with every audition and sometimes direction is clear as day. But some writer or director’s notes aren’t so easy to figure out. You could spend a lifetime weighing the different outcomes…thinking of all those “what if’s”. It’s tiring.

If I’ve learned anything so far in voiceovers, it’s to go with your intuition, trust the vibes, and energy doesn’t lie. As a voice talent, it’s hard to fully move on from certain reads. When we try new reads, it’s because we desire change or something new. Getting rid of your “old technique” that has been burdening you is the best way to start over. It’s easy for me to put my problems aside and quickly get over them. If you’re past it, and you’re happy, stay there. There’s no need to waste energy. If it’s fixed, let it be fixed.

Every voiceover audition brings a new opportunity to experiment. We experiment in the words we form and the interactions we have with producers, directors, agents, engineers, even other talents. Voiceover scientists roll up their sleeves and dive into whatever voices or styles they were wondering about. No matter the audition outcome, whether you make a brilliant discovery or not, you’re giving yourself the chance to be hired because any good scientist knows you can only do what you know until you know better. And you figure out what is better by experimenting, failing, learning, and trying something new based on what you have learned.

About colleagues, classes, colleges, and coachestrust
What gets overlooked is that these resources should really be looked at as a ‘safety net’. Obviously, some safety nets are more expensive, but when you have a safety net you can experiment all you want, make the strangest mistakes, have people tell you how bad your choices were, and do so in a safe learning environment where you do not feel like a bad audition will ruin your career.

Experimenting with creative choices is key to getting over the concerns and anxiety that creep into an audition…when it really matters. If you are going to experiment with auditions, it is often good to do so in the company of people who know why you are trying it, and can offer input on your experiment.
ps- Looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend at Voice Arts Awards in NYC!

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