Any experienced voice-over artist knows that their showreels and samples are their calling card – the CV with which they apply for individual jobs week in, week out. Whilst specific castings can be organised for some large, and perhaps more prestigious projects like animation series or films, there is often neither time nor budget to do this for the more day-to-day projects. Well thought-out voice samples and showreels can make all the difference between an empty diary and a full one. Here are some handy tips from inside the agency.
An agency like VSI supplies voices for an eclectic range of work, from e-learning and corporate videos to promos, documentary narration, commercials, animation, museum audioguides, in-flight announcements and automated phone messages. All of the above require different reads, and so it is vital to try to incorporate as many as possible into either one showreel, or be able to offer a wide range of separate samples. Any voice-over artist knows the styles that they can work in, and usually, so does their agent. For the end client, however, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine what someone will sound like on their advert, when an e-learning sample and a narrative read are all they have to base their opinion on.
Never be afraid to show off your entire range of skills, be it impressions, accents, styles… You never know if one day a client might be looking for an artist who does a passable John Cleese impression, or a woman with a Middlesbrough accent, or perhaps someone who can bring to mind a 1960s public service broadcast. If it is in your range, make sure we know about it and can show it off on your behalf. Similarly, foreign-language voice talents should always provide some English samples, as well as those in their own language, as many of the requests we receive are for people who speak English with a specific accent.
Take the initiative
We are regularly asked if we are able to acquire recordings and/or permission to use them in showreels. Often these requests are either politely declined by the end client (for reasons of confidentiality and rights) or end up at the bottom of a producer’s list of priorities. The easier and more efficient approach is to create your own showreel by selecting a number of styles and subjects, and perhaps even writing and compiling your own scripts. This way you have full control over the subjects, reads and coherence of the final product.
It is also important to stay up to date with your work, not just to include big brands and campaigns you have recently worked on, but also to provide a current voice demo. Sometimes the same samples will be used for many years, so when a producer is looking for a VO artist within a specific age range, a 10-year-old sample may not convince them.
In short, your showreel is the key to getting those bookings in the diary – don’t neglect it!
Ellen De Venter, Voice-Over Project Manager at Voice & Script International
VSI is a privately owned, family-run company, founded in London in 1989 by Group Managing Director, Norman Dawood.
The VSI Group today employs over 200 people across 20 facilities worldwide, services offered include Dubbing, Voice-over, Subtitling, Translation, Post-Production & Access Services.