Wherever society agrees on a systematic standard for anything, it makes life easier for everybody.
- time zones
- weights & measure
- light bulb socket threads
- the size of typing paper (by country)
- electrical sockets and plugs (by country)
- USB (Universal Serial Bus)
- nutritional labeling
- accounting principles
- food production health standards
- keyboard configurations
I could go on.
Yes, there are things that can’t be standardized (like art), but even in that, there are agreed-upon protocols that offer a level playing field.
It’s time for our business to standardize file-naming.
Talent agents, specifically, seem particular about this. Or not.
There’s an entire spectrum of expectation here from EXACT syntax to no instructions at all.
An audition uploaded to VoiceCasting Hub carries NO expectation of a file-naming at all. Same with Bodalgo and other P2P’s.
Name first? Job Title? Underscore or dash? Space or no space? Date? Agency name?
Now, some requests have you include your city and remote recording hardware.
I keep a chart.
I’ve been chided/reminded/scolded and otherwise admonished that getting the syntax wrong will result in the audition being thrown out.
That seems rather harsh, but wait…maybe I’m being myopic. So I went to a higher authority on this.
Erik Sheppard has long been a “tell it like it is” guy. No frills. Just the facts, ma’am. Erik’s advice is practical and pragmatic if nothing else.
I posed the question to him: WHY IS THERE SUCH A DISPARITY AMONG AGENTS AND OTHER BOKING SERVICES ON FILE NAMING FOR AUDITIONS?
In his response, I got schooled….and it was golden.
I asked Erik if I could share his response to my blog readers, and he was fine with it as long as I fixed his typos (one or two maybe).
See below the line for his wisdom on audition file naming:
There are a lot of reasons and it’s amazing to me that talent whine about it so much. I’ve heard agents complain about this for well over a decade. Talent know it’s a known issue and a huge pet peeve for agents, we remind talent with EVERY AUDITION and they still fuck it up daily. I’m sure that there were a million winning auditions that never got through because talent didn’t bother naming it as instructed.
Files go all over the place so there are a lot of scenarios:
1. We get clients that request very specific formats so that info is passed on to talent. This is a small ask from the client who may be juggling many roles and need to keep things in order somehow. We, of course, want to accommodate their requests.
2. We are using an online service. Most of those won’t even allow the upload if it is not named properly. So, if we upload 48 auditions at a time and one screwed up the underscore it will get rejected and now they are not heard because we missed the error beforehand.
3. We are using our own system and it requires a specific format. Most agencies use their own custom-built in-house web solutions and they may require specific formats.
4. It’s ugly. Even if there are no system requirements at all there should be some uniformity to the list of perhaps many auditions you are sending to your client. A mess of different names looks a mess. And if everybody uses a dash and you use an underscore you could be on top or on the bottom out of order depending on how things sort and the client could get confused.
5. We are bombarded. We may have a ton of auditions running at once. Two of them may have “Dad” roles and three of them may have “Announcer” roles and even more may have a bunch of other roles. Left to their own devices, talent rarely even include their full name on auditions so should agents be expected to wade through hundreds of auditions renaming each of them so they can figure out where they go?
The short answer is that we get a lot of auditions and they need to go to different places so they need to be sorted somehow. If I sent you 700 files over the course of the day and all of those had to be sorted into 4 different folders and half of the files were just named “BoB SmItH AwDiShUn” you’d go crazy.
We try to fix the incorrect names we get daily. We don’t always catch them all. We don’t always do it for repeat offenders.
Many agents don’t do it at all, they just delete.
Many systems automatically reject mislabeled files.
Plus we’re busy converting .wavs that were sent instead of .mp3s, editing slates that were incorrect, fixing files that are stereo and only on the left channel for some reason and all the other nonsense we get sent. So, it bears repeating for the zillionth time even though talent don’t seem to get it: if you mislabel your files there is a good chance you will not be heard.
Which brings me back to the title of this blog: CAN WE JUST STANDARDIZE AUDITION FILE-NAMING PLEASE?
Clients I’m talking to you too.
How this will ever get achieved I have no idea.
But if the world can agree on AC and DC, I’d think our industry could agree on a file-naming protocol.
I welcome your comments!