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What's the best content to use for a demo?
I'm ready to make demos to post with my profile, but I'm unsure what I should read and how long the demo should be. I've prepared an mp3 file of me reading one of my own stories (about 13 min) but perhaps that's too long. Please advise.
That is definitely too long! What you put on a demo depends on what kind of voice-over work you want to do. If you want to do book narration, you need about a paragrah/style of book (ie: nonfiction, romance, mystery, horror, etc.). As for other demos, I'm copying part of an article I wrote on demo creation. Feel free to contact me, if you have questions after reading this. I used to produce demos myself, but no longer do (no space):
The purpose of you demo is to show potential clients what you are capable of. It is advertising for your product - YOU. Like all advertising, there is a psychological component. You could do commercials about "pretend" products or include low-end local spots, but this doesn't show what you should really be doing - NATIONAL commercials - right? Well, anyway, that's what we want our clients to think. With that in mind, do the following:
Use real products, but NOT already produced commercials. If you have copywriting skills, create a great commercial that sounds like a real one. If you don't have the skills, a coach or credible demo producer will do this for you. As always, I HIGHLY recommend using a director for demo creation.
For narration for audio book companies, they want to hear a representative sampling of fiction, non-fiction and specialty (like children's) several paragraphs will do. Since Faulkner and Hemmingway have very different styles, very difficult to emulate, you should use original text. You may use it for demo purposes, but you may not sell the recording for any reason.
As far as fake movies are concerned . . . Trailers are super, duper, oh-my-God competitive. If you want to do a promo/trailer demo, you should check out such demos on voicebank.net, then decide if you really, really, really have the chops. If the answer is, "yes," just be sure that the movie you invent isn't more interesting than your voice. What I mean is that I've heard many demos which were very, very funny, but I was paying more attention to the copy than the voice itself. Make the movie sound believable and be sure to use all production elements. Again, I recommend a pro. There are also several specialty promo classes in the VORG. It's worth it to take a class in this, as the style of working is very specific.
Character voice demos are useful to have for games, animation and animé. Think about what characters you do well and only do accents if you are EXCELLENT at it, or you will do more harm than good. Look at cartoons and commercials that use animated characters and decide how you would best be cast. Also look at the popular online and platform-based games and think of what you can do. Make a list of about 8 characters and create a scenario for each one in which they are actively trying to get something from another character. Do not play the other character, just do a quick few lines to give us a sense of that character in action.
You'll have noticed that I've talked about these demos as separate - they are. Only your agent, should you get one, is interested in hearing your "range." Clients are only looking for you ability to do one thing, ie: commercials, narration, animation. Even within narration, you can break it down into things like Instructional, Books, Medical, Documentary etc. This is helpful if you have a specialty. Visit some of the online voice casting sites and see how the top voices (usually the ones featured on the front page) break out their demos.
With that said, you'll want to start out making the demo that is most likely to get you work, then build from there. If you've taken a class, you'll have a good idea of where you're most competitive.
Hope this helps. If you want the help of a pro prducer, there are some wonderful demo producers to check out in the Voice Over Resource Guide online (available at www.everythingvo.com).
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