Voiceover feedback is so important! Sometimes it reassures us and makes us feel warm and fuzzy. Other times it hurts! Sometimes it really hurts! As voice actors, we are performers, and our craft is a massive part of our life. Pain in that area brings doubt, frustration, sadness, lack of confidence and low self-esteem. So how do we deal with this and direct it positively? Well let me start by talking about the where this came from and delve into the wonderful world of video games.
Voiceover and the World of Video Games
My counterpart in the article is Randall Ryan, a video game casting director and a dear friend. I chose to calibrate with him on this article as we were able to create a relationship between feedback from the performer and the casting director. We both love music, and whilst discussing the situation I will allude to in the next paragraph, we discovered feedback often seems like a melody – it contains harmony but needs some dedication and practice! It is beautiful when it all goes well.
The Artist Trying to Make it Work
I was told by another casting director that they could not book me for a job without a visa. In fact, as a voiceover artist, this is something we hear ALL the time. There is some truth to it, so for example, if you are applying for work in the USA and you are not from the USA, you need a visa. However, in this instance I am a company in my own right selling a service from my own country. Could you imagine if we could not work internationally on a bigger scale? We would not be able to buy anything from Amazon.com if you are in the UK, or you could not order Yorkshire Tea from the US if you were in the UK! Ok maybe they will not want Yorkshire tea (though they should!), but you get the example, I hope. So, what is the situation for a voice actor in this situation? Well, there is a simple form called a W-8BEN that is required to be filled out.
Keeping Your Head Up
So, for me the feedback that struck a chord was that I was not in America or have a working visa. In one respect, that does help make everyone’s life easier. However, we can work internationally, and that is why it struck a chord. Feedback often can be less practical and instead more craft driven, and that is where it can feel a bit more personal. We must remember that the casting director has something they want in their mind from the onset. We need to fit that shape and present them with an alternative they did not realise they wanted but was so good that it is too irresistible to ignore.
The Voice Actor and the Casting Director
As Randall is a friend and an industry panel in video games, I wanted to get his opinion on things to consider when casting for a role. His first point on this situation is he would just use the W-8BEN form above and get the actor booked in – his view on it was to give the role to the best actor and keep it as genuine as possible. Quality over convenience. What I will say, though, is that everyone is at various levels, and some companies just do not have the budget to pull talent from outside their country, even if they are the best for the role. What we must realise is that there may be half a dozen people at the final stint all of which can nail the job.
Randall felt enthusiastic about the brief being adhered to, and having also attended and facilitated a few of his workshops, I also quickly learnt from collaborating with him that he loves a ‘truthful’ performance. What does that mean? Well, it means the voiceover artist does not simply represent the character, but they become and project the character leaning on internal experiences, decisions, and stories.
Where to Train in Video Game Voice Acting?
I mentioned above the workshops I have done and facilitated with and for Randall. These happen all over the world with loads of amazing people. As an actor it is so important to keep training, acquire new skills and refine your craft. It’s like going to the gym, you need to keep those muscles used, healthy and looked after. It is easy to forget skills and disciplines, and vital to push into the most profound elements of the role.
Bringing Something Different to the Table
I mentioned having a second take up your sleeve, which presents the casting director with something they did not expect while presenting something genuine that they love. Let us use a military officer for example, we have that stereotype. [Trigger warning] But what if this military character just saw his team blown up? It brings a different slant to the role. Still totally genuine to the character and believable, but it offers a different flavour. The second take should be so different from the first one, but both need the commitment, quality, and passion of a true performer
Voiceover Feedback Taking the Next Step
Keep at it! Do not take it personally! Keep training, and do not give up! That is my number 1 tip. Network and make friends, be nice to people, and never give up. That is my complete list of tips. This is a business, and we must hustle, and network just like in any other industry, whilst keeping our craft and material fresh. The more you hustle the more opportunities you will see, and ultimately the more clients you will make and work you will book. Apply feedback positively, and do not take anything too personally.
Shrug it off and move on to the next job, even if it is hard to hear initially. I was given a tip once, audition and, forget about it, move on to the next job. That is excellent advice! You may never hear from them again, so no need to get too down in the dumps or upset. That said, sometimes it can mean a lot to you, right? It might be that dream client! The key is to keep them coming back; more and more auditions mean they want to book you, think you’re good, and get close to regular work.