Free Voiceover Sushi and the hook that reels them in

As a casting director, I got to be a fly on the wall when the writers, directors, and producers wanted to listen back to the casting sessions in my office.  They could have listened to it in their cozy offices back at their own workplace – but why choose that when you can have a field trip and escape your boss for a few hours . . . and order free sushi for lunch?!  Yes, we catered to our clients every wish, including whatever they wanted to eat.  What they didn’t seem to want, however, was to completely concentrate on listening to the casting session.  These are hip, young writers of the post-MTV generation, easily distracted and entertained by something new every 20 seconds.  The most repeated line during a “listen back” was “go to the next one.”   Ouch.   I will tell you how to make sure they don’t say that about your performance.
                Remember again what you are competing with:  someone glancing at the Dragon Roll, normally $14 each, but now . . .  free!, someone else texting their girlfriend, and someone else rewriting a line of the script because they finally heard it out loud and don’t like the way it sounds.  Of course, much of the casting is heard, they do have to choose a voice, after all – but it’s not as fair and orderly process as you think.  You are also competing with a lot of other voices.  These are people that have a competitive enough performance to make it to the audition stage.  They will all, at the very least, have a basic read that sounds authentic and easy to follow.  Here’s where you must separate yourself from the pack, and quickly.  Think of that first line as your “hook.”  They can, and will, say “next” even after hearing only a first line.  Your first line has to do more than introduce who you are as the speaker.  It must convey some level of intrigue that makes them want to lean in a little closer for your read.  You might try saying it in a hushed voice, say it with a quiet intensity, or even with the indication that you just heard this “cutting-edge” information and you had to race to tell us all about it because it was so compelling.  Your style of intriguing delivery will depend on the structure and personality of the sentence.  Only you will know what that is after analizing the script.  Just make sure that your delivery is better than a free Dragon Roll, and you are IN.

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