“Your voicereel is your professional calling card.
“[It’s] the first example of your voice any prospective agent, director or client hears so it should showcase your voice at its very best,” says voice reel producer Kirsty Gillmore of Sounds Wilde. As with headshots and showreels, it’s glaringly obvious when you’ve cut corners. So see your voicereel as an investment in your career.
Find the right producer for you
Kirsty describes the perfect producer as: “Someone with the right mix of acting and sound production skills and industry experience, who's committed to producing the best reels for your voice through a recording experience that's tailored to your needs. Someone who knows the UK voice over market inside out, can make sure your reel is in line with the latest voiceover trends and can confidently offer industry advice and tips.”
Do your research by listening to examples of producers’ work and asking industry professionals – other voice artists, agents and production companies – for recommendations. Finally, have a chat with your prospective producer to see if you click. You should be excited to work with them.
“Genuine, authentic voices” work best, says voice artist agent Jamie Grant of Loud and Clear Voicesin a podcast chat with Kirsty, “It’s about believability. So many commercials these days sound like two people standing in the pub having a chat. You can have really dynamic styles of delivery in any showreel but as long as you’ve got a backbone of believability, that’s the key.”
When sourcing voice artists for a commercial, and TV producer Sophie Delaney looks for “reels that have both narrative reads and examples of commercials on them. Creatives often ask to hear more of a narrative read from the VO artists as that usually the best way to hear their natural voice.”
When starting from scratch your core voice reel should consist of a commercial reel of five to six clips and a narrative reel with two to three documentary reads and/or book extracts.
Versatility is key
It’s essential that your reel is versatile and dynamic. Kirsty explains: “You can adapt your voice to any commercial style. You can do a hard sell or a conversational down at the pub read … it’s about tones and shades of your voice.”
“Listen to radio ads, watch TV ads. Really think about how they’re approaching each script. Get hold of scripts, write your own and then practise approaching the same script from different reads.”
Sophie adds: “It’s important to show a variety of capabilities but I wouldn’t put accents on your reel unless you specialise in accents and are very good at them!”
Do your homework
Before you record, familiarise yourself with the scripts by reading through them a few times but don’t memorise them – you want your read to be fresh with space for direction.
Get a good sleep the night before your session and make sure you’re well-hydrated and fed to keep your energy levels up. Avoid alcohol the night before and dairy on the day as these will hinder your voice. Do a full vocal and physical warm up before you record so you’re performing to the best of your ability.
“Listen to your voice reel producer,” says Kirsty. “Be prepared to work hard and take direction. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification or questions – your voice reel session should be a collaborative working experience.”
Get yourself out there
“There are two major routes to getting voice over work in voice over in the UK: through voice agent, and through your own self-promotion,” Kirsty explains. “Whether you choose one of these or both, your first step should be to get your voice reel up online – your website, Spotlight, Casting Call Pro, SoundCloud, social media – so people can find you.”
Do your research when approaching agents. Investigate the clients they already represent and whether there’s space for you. Make sure you approach them in the manner they prefer. Most agents will have these details on their “contact us” or “representation” page on their website. For Jamie,“MP3s are the best. Links and Dropboxes, forget it, agents don’t have time for that. If you have a Spotlight link, always send it.”
Do you have any voicereel advice? Let us know in a comment!
Image: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons