1. Never make a demo reel until you're ready!!! If you are not a strong actor, DO NOT make a demo yet. If you send out a bad demo, you could ruin your chances of ever working in the voice-over industry. Please do yourself a favor and WAIT until you are ready. If you are being coached by an industry professional, they will tell you when you are ready. If you are VERY new to this industry, it's okay to piece together examples of your work so that you can market yourself to clients, but DO NOT label it as your demo reel, and DO NOT send it out to any major companies or major directors/casting departments.
2. A demo reel should only be a minute long. If your demo exceeds 1 minute in length, there is the possibility of it being thrown out and not considered. It is possible to go 30 seconds over, but I recommend that you not risk it.
3. Before you get started, you should know that there are many different types of demo reels. Examples: Character demo, commercial demo, promo demo, video game demo, etc... (Never mix different demo types together. They need to be kept separate)
4. Start the demo with your natural voice, and THEN show off your vocal range throughout the reel. Directors will typically only listen to the first 15 seconds of the demo, so make sure it starts strong!!
5. Never add impressions to your demo reel. Especially if you are just getting started in the industry. Directors want to hear YOU and your acting ability above all else. They don't want to hear your impression of popular characters or celebrities. They already have someone for that job. Show the directors what makes YOU unique!
6. It is STRONGLY advised that your demo be professionally done!! DO NOT do it yourself if you are not a professional audio engineer and don't settle for just any cheap studio. Many professional directors end up tossing the demo if they can tell it is not professionally made. In the words of Tony Oliver "If they can't invest the money to make a professional demo reel, I toss the demo and do not even consider it." Director's can tell when a demo is not made by a professional. They can't take you seriously if you don't take YOURSELF seriously. You can't afford to "half-ass" it. You need a great quality demo or it could very well end up being your downfall. Please do not make the mistake of sending out a poorly produced demo reel. You don't want to risk getting blacklisted from studios... In addition to this, make sure that your demo producer knows how to make voice-over demos. They may be a professional engineer, but that doesn't mean they know how to make voice-over demos. Ask them what their experience is with making voice acting demos. Ask them for their voice actor client list. Listen to their demos and check out their work beforehand to make sure they know what they're doing!
7. Scripts are very important, so I recommend hiring a writer, or writing the scripts yourself if you have the skills to do so. Your demo needs to be unique! Each character voice or commercial within your reel should have their own lines, music, and sound effects (if necessary).
8. Having music in your reel is a great way to separate one voice from another, but it's completely optional and not always necessary.
9. In order to get with an acting agency, you will need a commercial demo reel above all else.
10. Trends within the voice-over industry are constantly changing. Slates use to be in, now they're not. If you want a professional demo reel, make sure you get yours produced by someone who knows the current industry. Do your own research before choosing a demo producer (don't just take the producer's word for it). They may call themself a "legend", but are they really?? Make sure you ask other working professionals before making a decision... You don't want to risk having an outdated demo...
11. DO NOT ADD VOICE CHANGING EFFECTS. DO NOT ARTIFICIALLY ALTER THE PITCH OF YOUR VOICE... (Example: Robot effects, Monster vocal effects, warping, radio effect, etc...)
12. DO NOT USE BRAND NAMES IN YOUR DEMO REEL... If you use an actual brand name in your commercial reel, you could be deterring competitive brands from hiring you in the future. For example: If you add a Lays commercial spot to your demo, you may end up ruining your chances to book a Doritos commercial in the future. This may sound like a silly rule, but branding is incredibly important to these companies! There are of course various other reasons as to why using brand names in your demo reel is a dangerous idea, but I'll just leave it at that. Good luck!
video game & commercial demos
Location: Dallas, TX
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If you see that a studio / demo producer you know of isn't on this list, it could be that I do not know of their services, I forgot to add them to this list, or there's a very good reason I have not added them... Either way, please feel free to contact me and ask for advice before you commit to a demo producer.
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