The last time I updated my narration voice-over demo before now was likely 2007 or 2008.
When that much time had passed, I think a voice talent needs to ask himself three questions:
1. Are you booking equally as strong off your narration demo today as when it first came out?
2. Has anything changed in your narration style that is not reflected in the current demo?
3. Has there been a change in preferred styles producers are looking for from narrators?
The answers to these three questions, in order, were: yes, no and no. Logic thereby dictated that there was no major reason to update my narration voice-over demo.
So naturally, I’ve changed and updated my narration voice-over demo. This is voice-over. Logic-schmogic.
A little background now regarding my opinions on voice-over demos.
First and foremost, voice-over demos are not odes to one’s self and “how great thou soundeth.”
They are a sales tool, nothing more or less.
There are at least ways (probably more, but it’s late as I write this and I don’t like to think much after 8:00 p.m.) to go about producing a new voice-over demo.
1. Hire a respected voice-over demo producer who can sift through your better work and also find scripts to produce for your demo that fit your voice (this is useful if you do not have strong audio production skills, if you need another set of ears to keep you honest or both)
2. Produce the demo yourself and have someone or “someones’ serve as a sounding board as you go along
3. Slap something together and call it done
For my narration voice-over demo, I chose option #2.
There are many talented folks who I would have been happy to work with on my new demo. I am, however, comfortable enough in my own demo production skin (having produced my own demos successfully in the past as well as demos for other voice talents) that production and performance quality would not cause me anxiety. I also know myself to be professional enough not to be hurt when/if the feedback from my sounding board universally pushed back against my own instincts.
This is where honest friends come in. Without them, a self-produced demo will likely not turn out well.
I should specify these friends to be NOT high school buddies or your neighbor. These need to be professional and talented voice-over friends. People who have been in the business for a while, who have made demos or had demos produced for themselves and who have listened to a fair share of demos themselves.
The collective knowledge in such a group of what “sells” in the industry (voice styles, “sound” and production quality) will keep a self-producer like me honest. But the onus on the self-producer is to truly listen, honestly filter majority opinions and be willing to change. The demo cannot become the self-producer’s “baby”. Babies are perfect, demos are not.
Whether or not this specific narration demo I have completed turns out to be successful or not rests solely on my shoulders. But my ability to complete it to my ultimate satisfaction would NOT have been possible without the help and opinions of the following professional and talented voice-over friends.
Dan Friedman – has some of the best ears in the business, in addition to his well-respected talents as a voice-over artist. He heard the first draft and the last as well as many in between. He also hated one mix so much he fixed it…and it was better after he did. Thank you for your patience.
Doug Turkel – some years ago, he took me to lunch in Miami at a hot dog stand very near a major modeling agency’s office which, it turns out happened to be unloading a bus full of supermodels about next to our table. He listened to my narration demo too…but it was a BUS FULL OF SUPERMODELS!!!! Thank you for the supermodels. 😉
My Agents – these are people who sell me to the world so it would be beyond stupid not to include these people (who live and breath demos and auditions daily) as a sounding board. Thank you Erik Shepard, Toni Silveri, Stacey Siegert, Lynn Heyman & Laura Von Holle, Stacy Hofman and Sharon Murphy.
My FaffCon Stand-up Group – these poor people have to listen to me every week and then I put in the extra work request to help review this demo. So thank you again Kelly Brennan, Kelly Klemolin, Diane Merritt and the aforementioned Mr. Friedman.
My Buffalo Voice-Over Meet-Up Group – the unfortunate souls only have to listen to me monthly but they too were gracious in their insight: Dan Lenard, Leslie Diamond, Chris Nichter, Maria Pendolino, Jodi Krangle, Fran McClellan, Fred Filbrich, Elaine Singer and Bev Standing.
I am grateful for all their help. Thank you.