How To Become A Voice Actor 4

The Casting Process that Gets You The ‘Big Bucks’ –  TV Jobs!

When you’re just starting out or building your voice over career and repertoire, it can be a bit of a mystery exactly how or why you may have been selected to submit your voice for an ad or campaign or…(reason to celebrate)…won the job!

I know you want to know all you can about how to become a voice actor, so here goes!

I want to talk about what I call the ‘high end’ of voiceover work.  That is, the work you get that comes from an Advertising Agency or Production Company who have clients who have an annual budget for their advertising.

To create the sound design and cast the voice talent, the agency works with a Sound Studio.  Their intention is to create a stand-out’ job.  Potentially an award-winning job that will not only help to lift the Advertisers profits, it’ll also help to increase the value of the Ad Agency.

The truth is, choosing the right voice for a commercial or a campaign isn’t just a game of ‘eeny-meeny-mine- mo’, or a ‘random act of selection’.  There’s a science behind it and it’s all about one little word…‘branding’.

You will have heard the word before, I’m sure.  If you’ve been a regular watcher of ‘The Gruen Transfer’, which is compulsory viewing for anyone in voice over, you’ll have heard it a million times, so let’s talk about it and how it relates to you…the voice actor.

Branding is the process of creating a unique name and image for a product and then rolling out advertising that’s targeted to the market the advertiser believes is buying or will potentially buy that product.

Branding is, of course, considered successful when that product out-performs the competition in its marketplace, and establishes strong customer loyalty.  Advertising agencies spend a lot of time talking with their clients about it.

So, what is the process they go through, to find just the right voice, the one that ticks all their branding boxes?

Well to begin with, an enormous amount of research will have been undertaken by the client with their advertising agency to discover just who their market is.  Market research and focus groups are considered an important tool for finding out what the market does… and what the market wants.

Through this process they’ll be very specific when it comes to finally ‘nailing down’ their customer.

They may create a set of adjectives or descriptive phrases, or words that conjure certain feelings.

Sometimes they can be as specific as designing all the traits of their ‘one perfect customer’.

Let’s say, the product is a new brand of low GI champagne.  Who knows!  They might invent it one day! They may have a description like this, ’35 something female, corporate job, serial online dater, dreaming of falling in love and settling down.  She goes to a gym, shops exclusively online and drinks champagne.  Her friends find it refreshing that she’s straight-talking, knows what she wants and cuts-to-the-chase’…that kind of thing.

When the ad agency has an image that is as specific as this, they’ll write ads for that specific person, so when it comes to casting the right voice for their ads, whether it’s a voice over for a television ad or for a radio campaign, they’re listening for a voice that embodies the character and personality of that ‘one perfect customer’.

When it comes to listening to demos for their potential voice, they may cast in a couple of different ways.  They could send an outline of what they’re looking for, a ‘brief’, to the recording studio they plan to record at, for suggestions.

This will be what they do if they want the engineer or casting person at the studio to ‘find’ them a voice from all who are available who fits the brief.  These may be voice actors who are unrepresented or new to the business, as well as those who are most experienced and are represented.

They may also choose to go onto the Voiceover Agent or Theatrical Agent websites to browse the site for a voice that resonates or they may call the agent direct to ask for suggestions.

Sometimes the brief might even include, ‘get an experienced voice actor’.  Sometimes they might even request certain names, voice actors whose work they are familiar with.  Sometimes the request might be ‘find me a new voice’…’a stand-out different voice’…or any other specific they may think they’d like to hear.

Sometimes part of the criteria for selection as ‘the voice’, of a certain brand, is that the person will be available to be ‘the voice’ long term.

Not only will they want to create strong brand recognition with their chosen voice, they want the voice to be available to them.  So, often part of the brief will be, ‘must be available to record radio and television campaigns for 12 months’ for instance.

You know, it’s a truism in advertising that certain voices resonate with audiences more than others…that some voices become like a trusted and familiar family friend.  It’s been this truism that has given many voice artists their long and successful careers.

When you’re learning how to become a voice actor, understanding how casting works will make it easier for you to make sure that when you make your demo, the material on fits just who you are with the kind of work you’re likely to get.

Next time, I’m going to talk about your demo in this casting process and how to optimise your chances of getting a job from it.

Until then, happy voiceovering!