First impressions are important in any profession – and voice over is no different.
For voice actors, your demo reel is truly the vehicle through which your ‘first impression’ gets made. As you can appreciate, Casting Directors are busy people, often with only 24 hours (or less!) to get talent submissions, review them, and send them over to their client. The hard truth is, sometimes they can’t listen to your full demo reels – and that’s why the first 10-15 seconds are crucial.
There are a few key things that are sought after during my castings, specifically when it comes to character reels. And while these tips may not cover everything, following them will help you create a more competitive reel – and most importantly – a stronger first impression.
Shop Around for Your Demo Producer
Most importantly, do your homework. Reach out and see who is a good fit for you. They will be directing you and helping pull out your best performances, so there must be good chemistry between you and top-tier directing ability on their part to help get you there. Great performances make a great demo.
Make Sure You Are Demo-Ready
Do they check that you are demo-ready? Do they offer coaching or will recommend coaching – need to be able to reproduce the same performance quality and sound – as automotive commercial demo producer Cliff Zellman says, your demo is your trust. Meaning when a casting or creative professional selects you from your demo, you want to be certain you can reliably self-direct and produce the same quality of performance and sound on your own or with their direction. This may mean some extra coaching before you record.
What is Their Experience in Demo Production – Body of Work
Listen to what they’ve produced (usually available on their voice over actors websites) and make sure you like what you hear. If you recognize the names of some of the voice artists they’ve worked with, ask about their experience. Was it a good one? Did they stand by their work? And did they book anything once they submitted their voice over demo? I love hearing from voiceover artists who booked big-ticket jobs after producing a demo with me and my team. Happily, this happens often.
The Demo Producer Should Master the Genre
If they produce commercial demos, they should have years of experience voicing, producing, and/or directing them. Good demo producers are extremely well versed in the kind of work they produce whether it’s audiobooks, eLearning, explainers, corporate narration, telephony, medical, or political, make sure they know the genre inside and out – including current trends.They are familiar with audiobook narrator jobs.
How to Become Respected Voice Over Demo Producers – Background
How did they get into demo productions, how long have they been doing it? Does the way they create voiceover demo samples align with your needs and did they run through their demo how-to process with you? You are the star of your voiceover demo, so your branding, market niche, and personality should also be incorporated. Your voice demo should have custom copy created just for you that showcases your wheelhouse reads and highlights areas you maybe haven’t yet booked in a lot but know you could do well, given the chance.
Voice Over Demo Length
Other points that didn’t come up but are questions I’m often asked is how long should your voice over demo be and the answer is it really depends on the genre. A demo is made of multiple tracks and the length of those tracks and the number of them you’ll find in any given demo varies. An eLearning, explainer, or corporate demo may be as short as 60 seconds or as long as two minutes.
A commercial demo, for example, will be 5-8 cuts and the length of those cuts will be short. Anywhere from 8-15 seconds each, with the sweet spot being about 10-12 seconds. Commercial demos are the industry standards with most demo producers, agents, and casting representatives agreeing if you can only afford one demo, it should be your commercial demo. Once you have a solid commercial demo, expand your array of demos and branch out from there.
Your demo is your marketing asset, like your website, any videos you’ve made, or samples of work you’ve collected. In this industry, it’s your most important of those assets.
Thank you for your reading.Good Luck!