A demo, as the name suggests is a DEMOnstration of your talent and skills – a presentation of your best work.
As a voice over talent, more than what you put in your profile or resume, your most important marketing tool is your demo reel. A quality, well-made demo reel separates the professional voice over artist from the untrained and inexperienced newcomer. But having a well put together demo reel is not exclusive to professional talents, a newcomer even has a greater task of putting together quality demo reel, or else no agency, casting director or producer will take them seriously.
If you are thinking of submitting some of your recorded work to an online casting site, an agency or as an audition, here are some of the things you need to consider:
Check Submission Guidelines
Before submitting, check the submission guidelines thoroughly. They may give details on the file format requirement, may ask for other information like the equipment and software you used. They may also ask for your resume, a head shot, etc.
When submitting a physical disc, or a thumb drive, make sure you label your submission clearly with your name and contact information. If there are no restrictions in personalizing your submission, make an effort to make the presentation visually appealing, yet appropriate.
If you already have your personal branding, you may use that in your presentation as long as it tasteful and not tacky. The same thing goes for email submissions, you can show off your personal branding through your email signature, attached cover letter, resume, etc.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are also some Do’s and Don’ts to consider when before putting together your actual demo reel.
Don’t use any materials that you do not have rights or permission to use whether it be the script, music or FX. If you are a newcomer and do not have any previous work to share, use free voice over scripts and materials that you can find online (some sample scripts even provide clear directions). There are also royalty free music and background online that you can use if it is required in your submissions. If you are working with a professional studio in producing your demo reel, they can also help out in this aspect.
With the risk of stating the obvious, don’t take credit for work you didn’t do. Don’t include work others voice over talents have recorded (even if they sound like you) just to fill in segments of your demo reel. You run the risk of not only being rejected but also totally banned (and ostracized) even before you kicked-off your career. It just won’t work!
Don’t assume that your 1 and half minute or 2 minute demo reel will be listened to completely, so make every segment count, and yes, this means even your introduction.
Do only include your best work. Your demo reel is only as strong as your weakest segment. And as you gain more experience and work on projects, regularly revisit your demo reel and replace the older and weaker segments with your newer and stronger work.
Do personalize your demo reel when needed. If a client requires a specific style or tone, or type of voice over work, invest on a demo reel that is content specific to the client’s needs.
Do focus on your strength. More than variety in the segments, your demo reel should show-off your strengths, a reflection of what you can do strongly and consistently.
What advice can you give a voice over newcomer when submitting a demo reel for the first time?