Join Voice Over Expert Marc Graue as he shares “How To Make an A-List Demo”. Find out what happens behind closed studio doors and get the cold hard facts on what matters, what doesn’t and how to grab the attention of prospective clients.
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Marc Graue, Burbank, Voice Over Studios, Fixinthemix.com, A-List, Voice Over Demos, Voices.com.
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Transcript of How to Make an A-List Voice Over Demo
Julia-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by voices.com, the number one voice over market place. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors, and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft, and prosper as a career voice over talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
This week voices.com is pleased to present Marc Graue.
Marc Graue: This is Marc Graue, the owner of Marc Graue Voice Over Recording Studios, in Burbank, California. We have been immersed in the voice over business for, goodness gracious, probably 25 years here in the Los Angeles area. So, we kind of got a handle on what’s going on with stuff, and today, we thought we would talk a little bit to you about your voice over demo, and how important that is. A lot of people put an immense amount of store in a demo; this is your calling card, this is what’s going to initially grab a client’s attention and really make them either stand up and go, “Holy-moly! Come in my office and listen to this guy,” or “Yeah, that was great, Pete. We’ll call yeah.”
“My name’s Bob.”
“Aa, whatever, we’ll call yeah.”
The important thing with the demo is you’re not there to go “Whoa! That spot sucks. Listen to the one after this.”
You need to make sure that everything on there is A-list, and it’s really going to grab them, and hold their attention span. So, it’s a combination of good copy, good reads, obviously, but also good production values. I can’t tell you how many tapes we receive here weekly of people that basically hooked a microphone up to their computer and went through a litany of not particularly good voices. That doesn’t grab your attention.
We have one in particular; I won’t mention her name, because it would be mean, but who calls pretty frequently asking us if we’ve played it to anybody, and of course we tell her, on a weekly basis, “Yes, we’ve played it to everybody.” Not really telling her what context we played it to everyone, but everyone finds it a very comical tape even though I don’t think she meant it that way.
What you want to do with a demo is bring to the party what you do, and what you do well. That doesn’t mean you have to be jack-of-all-trades. If you’re doing a promo reel, it doesn’t mean you have to do Don LaFontaine and Ashton Reeds. You know, there’re a lot of different things. Promos doesn’t mean that you have to be hung like a moose and have the voice of God; not at all. There’s a lot of lighter kind of copy. Do what you do. There’s nothing worse than somebody straining to hit something, you can tell, they’re not comfortable doing. Well, what happens is, you’ve just created a, “Gee, he’s certainly not Don LaFontaine.”
Another thing with demos is people have a tendency to go overboard with packaging. We receive a number of demos here weekly, and I have to be honest: packaging does nothing. It doesn’t make you listen to the tape. It doesn’t make you go, “O, cute! Look at the candy bar!”
That has no bearing on it. Or, little catch phrases, etc. That’s fine if you want to do that. Bottom line is, make it very, very clear when you do a demo, as to what it is, whether it be commercial, animation, narration, promos, etc. Make it very clear and legible. Just simply, you know, “Introducing the voice of…” or “So and So Commercial Reads”. You know, dah-dah-dah, you know. Animation, cartoon voices, whatever you want to do. But, cutesy stuff, I have to be honest, really doesn’t do a lot for people, which brings us to another situation as well. And that is, staying in touch with potential clients. It’s certainly fine to send a demo, send an MP3, or actually send a hard copy – a CD – and do a follow-up call, or a card. And that’s fine. But, leave it at that. What happens is you start becoming obnoxious. Be assertive. But again, just draw that line where you don’t get too pushy with things.
Now, one of the most important things you want to do with a demo is to do something that really draws attention. The quote-unquote signature voice or voice quality, yes, that’s important. But, realize you need to do something to grab a client’s attention. What we’re trying to do with a demo tape is to create an aura of “Wow! What’s coming up next? I’m really excited about this. I want to hear more.”
And then create one of two instances – either, “Back it up and let me hear that part again!” or, “My God, that was wonderful! Let’s have them come in and read for this.”
You don’t want so much material that half way through the tape they’re doing the infamous, “Yeah, that’s marvelous. Love what you did, Dave. We’ll call ya.”
You can’t do that. It all needs to be A-list, and Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! So, it creates a sense of excitement and something they realize you have production values on there. What you’re trying to do, in essence, is create a demo that they wouldn’t know whether these spots were real or weren’t real.
It’s also very important to keep your demo updated. There’s nothing worse than when somebody sends a demo and they’re talking about “the new 1978 Buick.” That kind of loses something and you realize, “Wait. Either they’ve been dead the last 20 years or their career has been.” It’s really important to keep that updated, and fresh. That doesn’t mean having to go in and redo everything from scratch. Invariably, there’s going to be a couple of commercials on there or cartoon voices, etc, that you really, really like. But, keep it fresh.
You need to be, you know, brutally honest with yourself, too, as far as what your capabilities are on a demo. A demo tape is a sampler. And what you simply want to do is give them enough that they want to hear more, but you don’t want to put too much on a demo. This is only a sampler of your talent. It’s not a resume. So, what you’re trying to do is create enough excitement that they will call you in for a job specifically. If you’re doing character voices, think about it. There’s not a huge market for a gay Jamaican voice. If you want to do it, knock yourself out, but I don’t imagine that Disney’s going to be doing a gay Jamaican feature soon.
Now, there’s a lot of people that like doing a story line with animation reels; meaning that “the little girl is in the forest…” or “we’re talking with a psychiatrist…” and they’re going through a litany of voices. Interestingly enough, most VO directors, especially in Los Angeles, cringe when they hear this. It’s too cutesy. That’s not what they’re looking for. They want to hear voice quality. I’ve heard a lot of people outside of the Los Angeles area go, “But, the demos are so fast. They’re cut so quickly. And they move so fast.” Again, it’s a sampler. You want to hit them with Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! If the client likes something, let them pay you to sustain the character. This is not you’re “greatest moment as a thespian.” So, once again, just make sure that you include your very best stuff on a demo. And if you do, and get it in to the right person’s hands, chances are you stand to make some money.
If you’d like a little more information about myself or the studio facilities and what we do, or you’d like a good laugh, ’cause there’s some great out takes up there also, you can visit our web site at www.fixinthemix.com Thanks! And hopefully we’ll be talking again, soon. Thanks a lot. Bye bye.
Julia-Ann: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this voices.com podcast, visit the Voice Over Experts show notes at podcasts.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed. If you’re a first-time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory, or by visiting podcasts.voices.com. To start your voice over career online, go to voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.
Your Instructor this week:
Voice Over Expert Marc Graue
Marc Graue is the owner of the legendary Marc Graue Voice Over Studios, a Burbank California landmark for more than 25 years. His client list reads like a who’s who of the voice over business including the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, HBO, Disney, Warner Bros., Dreamworks, Showtime, MTV, Discovery Channel, ABC, CBS, NBC, HGTV, Activision, Electronic Arts, THQ and many more can be found in the studios daily. As a producer, Marc’s voice over demo clients include: EG Daily (Rugrats / Babe), Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons), John Dimaggio (Futurama / Kim Possible), Randy Thomas (Academy Awards / Entertainment Tonight), Brian Baumgartner (The Office) and 100’s more!
As a voice over artist Marc has been represented by William-Morris in Beverly Hills for the last 12 years and can be heard on Avatar-The Last Air Bender, Veggie Tales, Code Name: Kids Next Door, Warcraft, Spiderman 3 the Video Game, Ratchett & Clank, GUN, Gothic 3 and on countless trailers and promos.