Recently working on a commercial package for a zoo he ran into an interesting challenge while trying to cast the voice of an animal.
By “interesting” I mean “difficult”.
“Not having a lot of VO relationships, and a lean budget, we went with web-casting hoping to throw a wide net.”They got a lot of responses.
“That became a major hurdle to completing the project and making our delivery deadline. Funnily enough, with all of the options, a few patterns emerged very quickly. About a third of the auditions were bad, distractingly bad. Poor audio quality and performances. Noticeable edits, some on every single line of the copy. Audio levels too low or too high, and there was a lot of background noise. Of those “really bad” performance auditions, there were several with talent that could barely be understood due to accents (the copy called for a “regular American” read) or a couple that were having actual difficulties reading the copy, adding and subtracting words, stuttering.”The rest weren’t much more helpful.
“We ran into odd issues with the rest of the auditions which weren’t outright awful. One of two things would happen. Either the actor would try to mimic [Famous Actor] who last portrayed a [Type of Animal] in [Recent Movie], or the read was just sort of a generic read. We absolutely didn’t want a [Famous Actor] read (the copy didn’t specifically mention the actor, but the direction indicated a very different personality than what the actor is known for), so those were out too. Of the plain reads, a lot of them came from talent agents. You’d hit a stretch of auditions from an agency, and the five or six guys we’d get would all kind of feel the same. A similar rhythm, or vibe. One agency sent half their guys using the same “ad-lib”. Nothing really felt honest or unique about the process. A lot of the reads felt like just that, someone reading them off the page.”It’s not all on the actors of course.
“The production did get away from us. Deadlines were looming. Budgets were tight. Honestly, with the fast turn around, fatigue set in really quickly. Trying to listen through dozens of auditions at a time was exhausting. We thought our script was hilarious working with the writer. Trying to listen to over two hundred interpretations of it, it became noise...”Their solution was one we’ve seen before.
“The writer we were working with had us cracking up describing the character, so we used him for the spot. We knew he wasn’t the best actor, but we knew exactly what we’d be getting.”Where do we go from here?
“We have more spots to do with more voices to cast. Our budget and turnaround wont get any better, and after this experience I doubt we’d get more money or more time to improve the situation.”I of course offered my services...
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