Her Imperfect Reel

I have worked both sides of the microphone. As a writer and a hirer of talent. And as a voice talent wanting opportunities.

In my early days I prided myself in giving people an opportunity. But in the end, I gave up and just used talent who I knew could deliver––without much fuss. It’s all about time, money and passion for the ads I wrote. I wanted the best voice to make my script shine.

Whilst many new voice talent had great audio reels––the reality was not that great. When I’d give them a job, most couldn’t read an ad or had trouble taking direction. This meant I’d have to book extra studio time just so I could get an acceptable read. And then I’d be coaching new talent with basics and using up my time and the studio’s time.

Training Courses

Many hopefuls do training courses under the impression they are doing to get lots of work and conquer the world. Once the course is finished they create a demo of their work with straight reads and character reads and so forth. These are recorded and edited in studios that the talent pays for as well. The producer’s job is to make the talent sound perfect. Sometimes you can make a silk purse our of a sow’s ear but it costs money.

Her Demo Reel

One young lady called to our radio station with her demo in hand asking to see someone about voice work. I met her – she kept thanking me, telling that nobody would reply to her emails, packages sent, phone calls and cold calling. I listened to her reel. It sounded pretty good but knowing these were only demos I tested her on a few reads. She was not good at all and if I was to use her it would involve many takes and lots of editing. Every producer wants to make a magical production out of a great quality voice. They don’t want to be spending their time trying to manipulate the voice to make it acceptable. This wastes time and energy and above all the money.

After I told the talent I’d be unable to use her, I explained my reasons why. She became angry as she thought, once she finished her training, she’d be doing voice every day throughout Sydney. And exclaimed: “So I have to go and find another job?”. I am not sure if she was led to believe that or just assumed so. Yes, her training course had delivered a perfect demo reel but it failed to open doors.

I always tell people to practice, practice and practice. They key is to be able to read a script with ease and to be able to take direction. Most agencies will not reply as they haven’t the time or have enough people on their books, or just couldn’t be bothered.

To get a door open you need to go beyond the norm. But make sure your reel is true to the reads you have recorded.