Auditioning By The Numbers

Written by Kate McClanaghan


Auditions are an art unto themselves. The more of them you do, ideally, the better you get.

The fact is no one is all that keen on auditions, producers and talent alike. It’s nerve-racking for both sides of the production process; those casting are worried you’re better on your demo or during the audition process than you will be on the job, and talent are just plain worried about what it is they don’t know.

On one hand, some talent become expert auditioners but can’t deliver when ultimately put to the test. They often harbor the erroneous notion that, once booked, they are expected to deliver a flawless performance in one single take, after which the entire studio will explode into spontaneous applause and then they can go home. The only real difference between the audition and the session is the number of takes. A booking may require 5 takes, or it may require 55 takes (It varies dramatically from job to job, and from director to director). Whereas on the audition, we usually get only one or two takes, regardless of the project, regardless of the medium.

Still, others are only good once they land the job; but bridging the gap from unemployment to employment remains the eternal dilemma and demands they master the art of the audition.

I know, I know. I can hear all those young hopefuls pining, “Can’t someone just take a chance on you so you don’t have to go through this ridiculous process?” In a word: no. Creatives and talent agents alike only look good if you do.

Certainly voice-over demos and on-camera reels can act as an effective substitute for an audition on occasion, in large part because they are thought to be the best example of what you have to offer as a professional, and what sort of work you are seeking more of. So if your professional tools are not up to date or are low grade and makeshift, you may be keeping yourself from landing jobs you might be perfect for.

Auditions are promo. And, for voice-over, they aren’t and should never be the sole form of promotion, due to the simple fact that relying on a single talent agent from a single region to supply you with enough auditions is not a viable option. After submitting your promo, you may be called in for an audition. The more auditions you do, the more you make yourself known, and the more familiar you’ll become to those most likely to hire you. Statistics dictate that it generally takes between 150 and 200 auditions to book a job.

If you’re ultimately only getting two to three auditions a week from the one singular talent agent you have, then it’ll take you a year or more to land a single job! You have to increase the odds in your favor. One of the great benefits of voice-over is the fact that you can (and should) secure numerous talent agents in a variety of regions across the country. With consistent, targeted promotions driving traffic to your voice-over demo Web site, you can effectively be cast directly from your demo and increase your odds of securing work by a significant margin if you do.

Even the most-experienced and skillful talent require coaching from time to time to sharpen and improve their techniques and tools. These talent are held to a higher yardstick and must deliver above and beyond expectation. So, coaching is a constant if you expect to work with any regularity.

Schedule a few coaching sessions throughout the year with the objective of building and maintaining your performance muscle, otherwise your skills will atrophy.

Kate-McClanaghanKate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both “Big House Casting & Audio” and “Actors’ Sound Advice.” With more than 30 years of production experience and better than 15 years of casting both on- and off-camera projects, Kate is a seasoned veteran in the industry and the author of The Sound Advice Encyclopedia of Voice-Over and the Business of Being a Working Talent.

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