Demo Do's and Don'ts and Don't Evers!
We all know that to get a job, you have got to have a demo...a killer demo! But there are things that can actually kill your demo. They might
be in your demo right now and you don't even realize the damage they can do!
In a recent demo critique session (both radio and TV) for SAG-AFTRA in Los Angeles that I participated in, I couldn't believe how many of these very talented students' demos had these issues in them. And when pointed out, these students were shocked and surprised.
The number one issue ia bad audio and/or bad video. No matter how great the piece is fundamentally, if the audio or video is truly not air-quality, it should not be included in your demo. What you are essentially saying to a potential employer when you include poor audio or video is that you believe this to BE air quality. And frankly, anyone who believes that poor or bad is acceptable is not the kind of person Program Directors or News Directors want to hire. Your demo shows them the kind of work that you will put on their air if you are hired, so make sure that it is up to that level.
Another often overlooked error is including other people on or in your demo. That back-and-forth at the anchor desk or with an on-air partner might be clever or even informative, but it begs the question..."Who's demo is this anyway?" When someone else is featured in your demo, it essentially becomes their demo as well. Hard to believe but true, most of us know someone who has gotten a call from a prospective employer who has seen their demo...not to talk to THEM about a job, but to get the contact number for the OTHER person on the demo. Oh, and they thought you did a nice job too! Other than newsmakers or interview subjects, keep everyone else off your demo!
On that subject, remember that you have to keep your demo short! Radio should be no more than 1:30 and 3 minutes is about it for a TV demo, so you don't want to waste much time on a long sound or video bite. If you have to, edit it out, leaving only the beginning and ends to demonstrate how you get in and out of the bite. After all, the demo is about YOU and that's what a prospective employer want to see.
Wait, I hear you. How short is that demo supposed to be? That's not enough time! Well, yes it is. If you don't wow them from the very start, adding more content (meaning a longer demo) is not going to do it. Make sure your demo starts off with a bang! Hit 'em with the very best, most creative piece you've got and then pack a few more behind it. If you can, vary the type piece to piece so that in that short time you show them that you are not a 'one-trick pony' but instead you do it all within the scope of the job requirement.
You want the job so make it easy for them to hire you. Your demo is going to be viewed/listened to by some very busy people. You don't want to make them go searching for a way to get in contact with you. Sure, you have your contact number on your resume, but what if it gets separated from your demo...of if the person is just too busy to go back and review it. I like to see your name and contact number of a graphic at the start the demo and again at the end of the demo. For an audio demo, that would be, of course, spoken.
And finally, no demo is forever. Make sure to update your demo....at least every six months or so. Not only are your skills going to improve with practice, whether at your school or on your first jobs, but your content can quickly become dated making your demo seem old. Remember, you want them to see you as ready to work, with cutting edge skills and a professional approach to the job.
Next month, what to do if your internship has you cleaning out the prize closet week after week...after week!
Is there something you would like to get my thoughts on? Just email me at [email protected] Your suggestion just might be a topic for an upcoming article.
Tammy Trujillo is both an entertainer and an educator. She began in the entertainment field as a child and since graduating from Cal State Fullerton, has continuously worked in the Los Angeles market as a News Anchor, Reporter, Sportscaster and Commercial Voice-Over Artist. Combining her real-world experience with a hands-on approach to learning, Tammy has also taught broadcasting for the past 25 years at many of Southern California's most prestigious private schools and colleges. She is currently the lead Professor of Broadcasting at Mt. San Antonio College. Throughout her career, she has received numerous honors for her work both on the air and behind-the-scenes, including several Golden Mike Awards from the Radio Television News Association. Tammy is a member of SAG-AFTRA, a former Board member of the Associated Press Television Radio Association, a Hall of Fame member at Long Beach City College and a member of Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters. She has authored two books, Intern Insider - Getting the Most Out of Your Internship in the Entertainment Field and Writing and Reporting News You Can Use.