Penguin Random House Audio has launched Ahab, a global online casting platform for voiceover actors.
Originally developed as an internal tool for PRH's audiobook producers, the platform is now open to the public, and is intended to be a one-stop shop for all voiceover casting processes, from talent discovery to audition to offers of employment. Ahab is now available to projects in any field that employs voiceover actors, including animation, documentary filmmaking, podcasting, and video games.
"When we started building this platform, we just wanted to be able to support our authors, producers, and the acting community that makes the audiobook industry tick," Dan Zitt, cocreator of Ahab and senior v-p of content production for Penguin Random House Audio, told PW. "Providing tools to make casting more inclusive and transparent is important not only to our business, but to the entire voiceover community. We want to help actors who are struggling right now find additional sources of income during the pandemic, and this platform supports that."
Julie Wilson, cocreator of Ahab and senior manager of digital production platforms at PRH, said that she and Zitt "recognize that actors are multi-faceted and capable of expanding their skill sets beyond the voiceover categories they are already working in." She added: "I can’t wait to see this list expand and hear how actors’ careers are evolving in new directions because of the platform."
To adapt the platform, Wilson and Zitt and their team of developers at PRH consulted actors, agents, industry organizations, and fellow producers to create a range of new features, which include expanded search, filtering, and lists; the ability to host public or private auditions directly within the platform; shareable talent lists and audition submissions; and free educational and professional development resources, among others.
Talent profiles on the platform can be listed for free, while content creator profiles have been made free for a limited time after the launch. To date, PRH Audio said in a release, more than 8,500 actors from 67 countries speaking 107 languages and in a total of 115 accents have already joined the platform; 66% of the current talent pool are union members.
"Being able to audition via Ahab has completely changed my workflow," Wilson said. "Prior to the platform, auditioning meant sending multiple emails to actors or their agents, tracking this correspondence, and then downloading audition files. This all happened before listening to a single sample. Now, I can efficiently upload a script to the entire talent pool or a select handful of actors, assess their performances, and share my favorites with stakeholders outside of the platform."
Zitt noted that, in addition to making the voiceover hiring process easier, Ahab's team is committed to "reducing the barriers to entry for actors by providing more opportunities for them to interact with decision makers," calling it "especially important as we reach out to underrepresented and BIPOC communities of actors who want to break into this industry, and any company that wants to participate in these efforts."