|See also:||podfic, Multi-voice Podfic, Blanket Permission to Podfic, gatekeeping|
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Auditions are a normal practice in theatre and other acting circles. When podfic started taking off in the early 2010s, many fans (including some podficcers) did not see anything wrong with the idea. Fic writers giving individual permission to record and selecting which podficcer would be allowed to create a podfic of their stories was in keeping with wide-spread ideas about podfic as a simple format shift, or as a service to the writer of the fic. Some podficcers would spontaneously offer up samples of their work when requesting permission.
However, many podficcers objected to auditions, seeing them as one more barrier to practicing their craft that other fan creators were not subject to, and another manifestation of podfic not being valued in its own right.
In part to try and counter the practice of auditions in podfic fandom, klb and bessyboo created theatripod in Oct 2012, a community specifically designed for those who wanted a (punctual?) podfic experience which more closely resembled a theatrical experience (with auditions, a director, rehearsals, etc.) This was misunderstood and badly received by part of the community, which objected to what they saw as a 'normalisation' of the auditioning process.
literally the entire point of it was that it was doing the OPPOSITE of trying to "normalize" auditions for podfic, it was fucking trying to be like "they SHOULDN'T be the norm, they should only be happening in spaces specifically designated for them, like this one"
In Nov 2012, an incident in which a writer requested samples from a podficcer's work and went on to deny permission to podfic led to a large debate on the question of auditions and permission in fan communities.
twwings: yeah, I think that's weird too, but as an author I've also gotten podficcers who ask for permission and OFFER a sample so it's part of podficcing culture to some people - idk, maybe the podficcers who offer samples resent it.
jinjurly: yeah, i get that impulse, to offer a sample when you're a stranger, as an introduction.
twwings: but that author probably didn't come up with the idea on their own. it's something that a bunch of people think of as normal
jinjurly: yeah, i'm sure a bunch of ppl do - and it's part of a larger attitude that has history, that podfic is format shift, not fanwork.
twwings: right, I agree with you on the problematic attitudes that underpin that idea - but some authors have been told this BY podficcers
jinjurly: part of what's new to me is asking for a sample and then saying no.
twwings: yeah, that's fucked up. imagine if fic writers or vidders had to meet some arbitrary standard of quality to make their fanworks.
jinjurly & twwings tweets, 2012
This underlined the gatekeeping inherent to expecting podficcers to audition.
Some well-known podficcers explained why they provided samples of their work, for example:
I always include a link to my podfic when I ask permission. That way if they're going to audition me I don't have to know about it
pennyplainknits: @twwings @jinjurly I've said "If you want to hear what I sound like here's my archive page" but mostly because I wasn't sure if they knew
jinjurly: @pennyplainknits @twwings yes, this - to define podfic and to define me, not to audition.
The incident led to a larger discussion about "awkward podfic situations" on amplificathon, during which the topic of auditions came up in several comments:
There's the possibility in all instances of communication that the other person/people will respond with negativity, rudeness, or outright unreasonable demands (such as requesting samples for audition). [...]
I've never had an author say no as a result of "auditioning" my work, and I've never had them tell me to delete my podfic. But the fact that I know that's hanging over my head is part of why I haven't recorded anything in years, and why I may never post podfic publicly again.
Hearing about one of our fellow podficcers being told "no" after being asked to provide a sample of her work was upsetting to me this morning. My immediate reaction was to find out who this author was so that I would not interact with them as a podficcer. My desire to not interact with them, mind, was based on wanting to blacklist them and deprive them of my gifts and attention as a podficcer. It was a bit vindictive, that impulse. And I swallowed it after asking myself, what is the purpose of this? What will it accomplish? [...]
Direct communication to an author who perhaps doesn't understand podfic culture is also helpful (i.e. responding to their request for a sample of our work with a statement about why in general podficcers resist the call to be auditioned). [...]
shinetheway: [...] And also, I'm not quite sure why anna_unfolding quashed her impulse to fannishly shun the person who was so, let's face it, fucking MEAN as to inflict an audition on someone who wanted to transform a piece of artwork into a stunning new piece of art. AND THEN REJECT HER. [...]
anonymous: why is this "fucking MEAN"? (I mean, unless it was done nastily and as a personal rejection.) It sounds like podfic folks have reasons for not wanting to do this that I can't figure out- whereas I can easily think of a couple of reasons why a writer would want to hear what a podfic might sound like before giving permission: for example, if the fic was written by an English person and the podficcer was very Californian and was pronouncing words differently than intended, and intoning sentences differently? The author might feel that the reader was a bad fit for the story, without in any way thinking that they were a "bad" reader; and the author might be open to someone else reading the same story. To say that this automatically makes the author "MEAN" seems a bit simplistic, I guess.
niko: One of the things that the podfic community tends to push back against is the perception of podficcing as a "service" that is being done for the author. We come at podficcing as a means of expressing *our own* creative interpretation to the work and bringing out the elements about it that speak to us, so an author who grants permission only if she gets to control the final product runs a bit counter to that impulse. Not that an author doesn't have a perfect right to make that kind of requirement... but it will certainly narrow the pool of podficcers interested in her work, compared to an author with a more laissez-faire attitude.
froggyfun365: I don't know, maybe it's because I come from a theater/voice acting background where you have to audition, sometimes through multiple rounds, for every single thing but I don't see the problem with wanting to hear at least a sample of it before approving it. [...]
If they want an audition and after hearing it decide that they prefer I don't podfic it, sure I get momentarily disappointed but I don't take it personally. If you are the author and the person reads it nothing like how you heard the characters in your head while writing I don't blame them. Maybe the person who sent them the recording had poor mic quality so that's why they chose to veto it. You don't know.
various commenters, 2012
Years later, podficcers kept underlining the potentially deterring effect of being asked to audition:
For the record, I'll never audition for a podfic project. I don't see anything *wrong* with auditions, it just makes me too nervous.
LENA: Right. So you wanted to participate, like from the first time you heard about it?
COMPASSROSE: Oh, I didn't think I was good enough.
LENA: Oh really!
COMPASSROSE: I agonized about whether I was going to sign up or not. The whole audition process for some reason and I mean, I'm an actor. But yes, auditioning does paralyze me. So I was like, oh, yeah, no, there'd be way better people I shouldn't even sign up for this. [...]
From Auditions to Casting Calls
With the increasing popularity of Blanket Statements giving permission to podfic, requests for individual podficcers to audition in order to be allowed to record a certain work became less frequent.
However, auditions or "casting calls" became more common in the case of multivoice projects -- though many are also organised on a "first come, first served" basis, particularly those which are cast informally on Twitter or on the podfichat discord server.
Examples of full-cast podfic projects which included auditions or casting calls as part of their pre-production process:
- Blue Sky: The Podfic (2012-2014, unposted?)
- Heart-Eyes Emoji (2017, unposted?)
- Sansukh Podfic Project (2015-2016, on indefinite hiatus)
- Repossession (2019, ongoing?)
- Crown of Thorns Pod'rama (2019-2020)
See also: podfic + "casting call" twitter search
- bessyboo tweets, Jan 10, 2010
- twwings & jinjurly tweets, Nov 4, 2012
- paraka tweet, Nov 4, 2012
- pennyplainknits tweet, Nov 4, 2012
- desertpost comment on "Protective Measures: Avoiding Awkward Podfic Situations", posted to amplificathon Nov 5, 2012
- anonymous comment on "Protective Measures: Avoiding Awkward Podfic Situations", posted to amplificathon Nov 4, 2012
- anna_unfolding comment on "Protective Measures: Avoiding Awkward Podfic Situations", posted to amplificathon Nov 4, 2012
- Shinetheway comment on "Protective Measures: Avoiding Awkward Podfic Situations", posted to amplificathon Nov 5, 2012
- EosRose tweet, May 25, 2013
- Crown of Thorns Cast Interviews of CompassRose by LenaLawlipop, 2020