Voice-acting tips from
"The Art of Voice Acting Workshop"

QUESTIONS ON DEMOS

From Phil Merrifield:

 “I just exchanged several emails with a voice actor in LA.(I met him through a friend.) He's been a voice actor for at least ten years, and as far as I can tell, has met with success.I told him that I cut a new CD, and after a little "back and forth" email conversation, he told me, "Just make sure that you allow yourself to be 'type cast' on the CD."He claims that when listening to voice-over CDs, producers want to be able to know exactly what the voice should be used for.It seems from this that he is suggesting that when cutting CDs, a voice actor should not necessarily portray a broad range; he or she should stick tovoice that is most marketable.Any thoughts on this? I think he may have a good point... for my future CDs.

“Of course, since my latest CD is only my second... and I have yet to send it out"a lot of places", I think that the "broader range" is important.think I need to show a broader range so thatpeople will pick up on different things. think that eventually, the jobs I get will speak for themselves... and then I'll learn about what voices work best.As I make more CDs down the road, they will be fashioned more to ‘what hasin the past.’”

Reply from James Alburger, Voice-actor, owner of VoiceActing.com & The Commercial Clinic

Your friend in LA is absolutely correct . . . a single-style demo can be best for voice-talent who have been in the business for awhile and have a client base of people who know what they do. When a voice-talent has found their optimum money voice - their ideal delivery style - they should most certainly keep that as a focus on their CD. Your "money voice" will help to create a niche for you and your delivery style.

However, most people just starting out haven't found their money voice yet. In some cases, they don't even know what type of delivery they do best, or what type of client will be their best resource for work (commercial, corporate, animation, etc.). For most people just starting, it is very important to show versatility and skill in a variety of delivery styles, attitudes, and emotions. Of course, is someone is initially starting out with a corporate market in mind for their demo, they should certainly keep their demo in that style. An animation voice demo must show a variety of characters. For a commercial demo, the content usually needs to reflect a variety of delivery styles - straight read, conversational, real-person, edgy attitude, and sometimes even "announcery" (ie: car dealer disclaimer).

I know of several voice actors who have been in the business a long time and are very successful, who have a lot of variety in their demo. Go to www.jumpworldwide and listen to Bob Jump's demo for an example. Bob is all over the place with his voices and attitudes. Of course, depending on who he's pitching, Bob will create a specific demo that focus on a certain style or attitude. Judging from Bob’s demo and client list, he certainly isn’t interested in becoming “type-cast” with a certain style of delivery.  In his case, type-casting could seriously limit the amount of work he brings in.

I've heard two distinct schools of thought on demos: 1) focus on a single style (your money voice) and 2) include variety in emotion and attitude. I don't think there is an absolutely correct demo format that is right for everyone. Ultimately, it's like writing a resume to get a job: there's a basic structure you might follow, but you're going to make the resume your own by including content that shows what you do best. Look back at the first resume you wrote when you when job hunting right out of school. You probably included everything you could think of that demonstrated you had some skill. As you became more experienced over the years, your resume became more refined to focus on only those things that you do best.

Same thing with a voice-over demo.

Thanks for asking.

Another question on demos:

“Hi, this is Jon Paleologos. Remember me, I attended your weekend workshop last fall. Anyway, I would like to ask you something even though it may be a dumb question, but it worries me. The question is this: even if I have a good demo, will I be able to get work even though I have no acting experience? I know that many people in the business are regular actors and have prior acting experience, and I think producers, agents or whomever may be biased when it comes to that basis.”

Reply from Penny Abshire, Voice actor and Senior Producer for The Commercial Clinic:

FIRST - There's no such thing as a dumb question -so never hesitate to ask.
Speaking as a producer, I would never be concerned with someone's acting experience if I was going to hire them for voice over work. I would only concentrate on the performance that person could give me for my project. That's one reason why you don't generally see voice actors carrying around written resumes. It's irrelevant in almost all cases. Your demo or audition (or a recommendation from someone else) is usually what will get you the job. I've never had ANYONE ask me what my prior acting experience is unless I am auditioning for an on-camera part. Even an agent will be more concerned with your performance ability than your experience as an actor. If you find an agent who is biased in that regard...you don't want them for an agent!

You are correct that there are A LOT of people in the voice-over community who are also "regular" actors - but believe me when I tell you that other than the performance abilities their training has given them - they have no better chance of getting the gig than someone who has only studied voice acting.

Besides, Jon, I have worked with you and I know you have a great deal of natural ability.also know you can't teach someone to have a natural ability - they either have it or they don't - no matter how many classes they take!

My best advice is to try not to compare yourself to others doing voice work. You are completely unique - NO ONE has your voice or your abilities! There's plenty of work out there for all of us.

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