Beyond defining who you are professionally and what work you do best, your voice over demos are expected to be a professional demonstration of what it is you do best, and depict the sort of work you’re aiming to secure more of.
While there are no absolutes when it comes to what should and shouldn’t be included on your demos, there are key standards that must be considered if you hope to produce a successful demo. Probably the most important factors to consider are: what effect are you trying to create? What sort of work are you attempting to land? And are you servicing the talent needs of the producers most likely to hire you?
The best definition of a demo is:
what it is you do best
and what you want more of.
Question is: What does the producer need and want to achieve from your demos? As a novice (or even “intermediately” experienced) talent it’s highly unlikely you might venture an accurate guess. Even seasoned Pros completely miss the mark answering that elusive question. Which is why, after extensive (and continued) survey, we’ve discovered the finer points those most likely to hire you are after.
Your demo, by design, is intended to take as much of the guesswork out of the demo production equation as possible, therefore it’s imperative your track communicate point-of-view, formulaic style, skill (and NOT with clinical ‘legals’ either—you only have a minute!) Your demo must simultaneously display your ability to brand while defining who you are. It immediately communicates your professional and commitment level to your career. Producers and various clients are more interested in hiring someone who they feel can confidently run with the creative ball when necessary during the session. Further, they often turn to your demo to “sell” you (your style and type), as the vocal brand to best represent their corporate clients’ and directors’ vision.
Mixing commercial work with narrative work on the same track, for instance, is only appropriate on foreign language demos, such as Spanish or French. From survey we’ve learned, including multiple genres on a single track such as this reads you don’t understand the needs of your client and ultimately cancels both categories out. Which is the polar opposite effect you’re trying to create with your demo!
While you may consider character work one of your greatest assets, “just being yourself” is just as vitally important, if not more so. And if you’re an actor, and you’ve spent a good deal of your training “being someone else”, this may be a somewhat counter-intuitive concept. Yet, most work requires a more conversational and natural your delivery from you.
And just because you were actually paid to voice a project, it does NOT mean it belongs on your demo. Many spots you book may never grace your demo, simply because the production values aren’t strong as what already exists on your track. Also, the spot you booked may be poorly written, the subject is not all that savory, or perhaps the piece just doesn’t represent the very best you can do or what you want more of this type of work. The fact is a lot of work we find ourselves doing, especially at the onset of our careers, can (and often is) slightly less than wonderful.
Further, it’s never appropriate to present MAKESHIFT, (HALF-BAKED) temporary DEMOS to talent agents or producers, especially when you know it’s not up to professional standards. This only succeeds in wasting their time and yours, while destroying your professional credibility in the process. Just try getting that talent agent to listen to your demo the next time, even after it’s been completely redone. Agents and casting directors are people conditioned to recall talent. They will think, “I remember this guy. He doesn’t know anything about this business.”
The most common excuse we hear for submitting a bad voice over demo is: “I’ll produce a better demo later, after I’ve landed some work and made some money.” Sadly, that day will never to come about, because the demo doesn’t service anyone—least of all YOU. due to the fact you’ve offered such a poor example of your professional work from the start. Your standards will be too low to be considered professional or viable.
The truth is no one wants to be put in a position to reject you. All the more reason for you to lead with power, navigating this industry is something of a poker game. If you bury your power the chances of you losing the whole shooting match increases exponentially.
Producers need your demos to discern whether to audition or simply hire you on the spot, therefore your tracks must fulfill the producer’s production demands and standards. After all, all people working in production (directors, editors, documentary producers, etc.) must have demos to demonstrate their very best work as well, and their demos often consists of created specifically for their demos to best define who they are what they do best.
If your demos don’t display the very best you have to offer, it’s time to step up your game. At SOUND ADVICE, we produce the most-competitive demos possible that offer the greatest opportunity to establish and forward your career. If you’re planning to produce your voice over demo, invest in yourself.
For strong examples of what truly professional, entertaining demos should sound like, check out our DEMO page!
Copyright © 2014 by Kate McClanaghan