Recording a Demo: How to Choose the Right Script for You
By Xavier Paul Cadeau
The Right Choice of Script Makes all the Difference
When it comes to landing new voice over work, Casting Directors will tell you, having a solid demo is crucial.
But how do you choose what scripts to use for your read?
The process is actually very similar to the one that musicians go through when they’re choosing the right songs.
With the right song choice, the singer’s voice seems to come alive. However, if they choose poorly, it may not matter how much you like that particular artist – it can be really hard to get over the bad fit.
However, it can also be hard to put your finger on what exactly isn’t working. Is it the interpretation? The appropriateness? The approach? Perhaps a combination of these things?
Choosing the right copy for your voiceover demo is very much like choosing the right songs to sing, or the right jokes to tell as a standup comic. You have to work in both a sense of entertainment and theatrical ‘suspension of disbelief.’
As a voice over actor, you’re expected to be able to leverage great storytelling as a way to take the listener to a new world, a new reality and another way of thinking and believing – even if this encompasses a territory that they had been previously unwilling to explore.
What ‘Range’ Means to Voice Over Actors
When selecting the right copy to read for your demo, many voice actors make choices based on their vocal range.
But what is your real ‘range?’
Many think that you only get the range you’re born with and that your demo only has to match your voice type. However, with an investment in training and coaching, voice actors are astounded by how they’re able to expand the breadth of their voice and what they can accomplish.
Therefore, going into recording a demo before you’re ready can prove to be a huge mistake.
This is the fundamental difference between a ‘voice talent’ and being a ‘voice actor. You may have been born with talent, but true actors hone their craft and expand on their abilities through lifelong learning.
Whereas a voice talent will need to be directed into a read or a sound, voice actors are able to use an instinct that they’ve taken time to develop.
Once your demo gets out into the world, the industry will be listening for your voice acting range.
Emotional range needs to deliver on any type of mood, from authoritative to conversational, from anthemic to matter-of-fact, from hip to cool, and any combination in between.
How to Choose the Right Script for Your Demo
Once you’ve done your homework and know that you’re ready to record, choosing the right script becomes fundamentally important.
When looking over material, some helpful questions to ask in the process of choosing appropriate copy are:
- Is the copy current?
- Does it sound like an example of spots that are airing today?
- What are your fundamental voice qualities – do they match the copy?
- In order to nail this read, should you have a coach help you through the process?
Although you may have worked with coaches in advance of recording your demo, sometimes it’s useful to have them by your side as you work through the script as well. This is because learning how to accurately hear your voice with the perspective of a casting director can be a disorienting experience, but a great voice over coach can guide you through. Sometimes it takes outside skill to be able to assess what will work for your voice.
While it can take some time to hone your reading instinct, it’s best to focus on working towards strengthening your interpretive abilities. Through doing so, new copy choices and directions will become clear.
Like a singer assembling the right songs for a debut album, the final product should have several strong hits and/or directions, which the listener and the industry can become excited about.
About Xavier Paul Cadeau
Xavier Paul Cadeau provides voice over coaching and branding consultation. A voice over artist and audiobook producer, Xavier has 25 years of voice over experience. Currently the voice of several major brand campaigns, his most recent credits include: new on air promo announcer for the NBA, Narrator for History Channel’s UFO Files, Network TV. spots.
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