I wanted to take a minute to offer a cautionary tale to any new voice actors out there. From time to time, a client will ask you to give them a read of an entire script. There could be a number of reasons for this. One, the producer, or director may just not realize how much work that entails for the voice over artist. If someone does not work in voice production on the regular, this especially can be the case. You may hear comments like “it will just take you a few minutes right?” or “its only 30 seconds, how long can it possibly take?” Two, the client may be looking to use your read as a scratch track. This is where your voice recording is added to a video or audio file along with the pictures or music so that the client can make a pitch to their client. This happens when the voice over is hired by a marketing or PR firm. This is all well and good, but you should be paid for it! Finally, the client may well be looking to steal your work. They ask you to read the whole script because they fully intend to take your work, and head for the hills once you send the mp3. Sad, yes. It does happen, however.
This week I was asked to do a read for a script and provide 4-5 takes of 3 different scripts. Two 30 second voice overs and One 15 second. This brought up a whole different reason not to do what was asked. Let’s face it. If you are reading One 30 second script as an audition and you are a talented voice actor, it really may only take you 5-10 minutes! In my case, on this job, however, I was being asked to provide 15 separate full reads! That really is a lot of work. Plus, here’s the kicker. The client told me they wanted these full reads so that THEIR client could make a decision on which voice to hire.
I, of course told them they were out of their minds. There was no way I was going to to 15 full reads on spec! Instead I offered them 3 reads of 1 of their scripts as an audition. If their client couldn’t decide who to hire from that, tough.
Now, you can probably guess where this is going right? I sent the audition, and several hours later the client said “Thanks, they decided to go with the other guy”
Was I mad? No, I fully expected this to happen. I protected myself by only sending a partial audition. Could they still use my full read of the 1 script without my knowledge? Sure. I did my best, however, and it really was minimal effort for that audition. No more than 5 minutes of my time.