Today, I want to tell you about a little (ok, big) VO mistake I made recently. It feels like such a rookie mistake, especially because I’ve been voice acting for 25 years now—but actually, mistakes are ageless, right? Still, I’m hoping my experience can help you avoid repeating this incredibly time-consuming error with your own voice acting clients.
So, a client of mine reached out and asked me to record a few voice-over auditions. They were excerpts of a few scripts for a project they were casting. As I’ve mentioned in another blog, I think it’s very important to take your time recording auditions. So, that’s what I did. The scripts had very specific instructions, so I did a lot of recording and listening back, then recording again. When I felt I was able to convey what they wanted, I sent the demos in.
Weeks went by before I heard back from them. Finally, I got an email: “You’ve been selected for the project. We love the demos you submitted and we’re ready to move forward. Here are some additional notes about the project, and we’re looking forward to receiving your files!”
Recording the Project (aka, What I Did Wrong)
Because it had been a long time since I recorded the demos, I went back and listened to them. They already felt old to me, and to be completely honest, I didn’t really love them. In the email, the client had shared some notes, and I liked those ideas better than what I had recorded in my demos. So, I went ahead and recorded the project based on the notes in the email, rather than just emulating my audition. I recorded everything and sent off the whole batch of videos…
The next part is awkward…the message said: “Hi Lili, we loved your demos. But we feel like you’ve gone in a new direction. I’m sorry to ask this, but can we get what we had agreed on?”
“A new direction”…they were right! The new reads did not sound like the original auditions at all. Of course, I had to record all the videos, all over again. It was my mistake, and it really is a rookie mistake in the sense that, after all these years, I should have known better. You see, they had gone through the whole process of getting these auditions approved—and here I am, flipping the script on them. Ugh…
The moral of the story is this: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Once you submit an audition and the client approves it, they’re often counting on you to sound just like the audition.
Now, if the client is on the line giving you directions, then that’s a different story. In that case, the audition sometimes goes out the window—just follow their direction and deliver whatever it is they want. But if the client isn’t there, they’re counting on you to provide what they already said yes to. That’s what got you the job! (If you want to flip the script, you should really record new auditions, but that may pose some problems…read on.)
As you can imagine, I was suddenly in a huge time crunch because that initial deadline to deliver the videos was now almost behind me. It made me think about the reason why clients really do need the actual recordings to sound like the auditions.
You Can’t Please Them All
The decision-making process often involves many different people. In this instance, it took them a couple months to get back to me. Now, that may be due to various factors, but one reason that often causes delays in approval is that there were many people to please.
If you’ve ever worked in a team (or if you’re in any relationship of any kind) you know how difficult it can be to agree on things, even with just two people. (My husband and I can’t agree on anything related to home décor!) So, getting everyone to agree on the voice, then agree on the style, then agree on everything else they want out of the VO isn’t easy, or simple. It might have taken them a long time and a lot of work to agree on moving forward with me—and then I flipped the script on them and provided something completely new. It would be tough to please all those people again, when it took them so long the first time!
This is a solid reason for you to deliver your voice-over exactly as the client wants it. They agreed to the audition—that’s why you got the job. Even if you aren’t crazy about it anymore, they obviously think it’s great, so just reproduce it. Again, if the client is on the line and asking for something other than what you did in the audition, then follow their lead and deliver what they want.
Has something similar ever happened to you? By all means, write in the comments—I’d love to hear about it. Either way, I hope this anecdote helps you avoid making this same VO mistake! Till next time!