So I have recently started taking my sfx "career" more seriously and want to work towards possibly getting an internship or freelance work. I am interested in working mostly in animation and film. I have no experience so...how can I start practicing and getting material that I could show to someone in that field that could possibly employ me?

How would I put together a portfolio or something similar besides having a website? (I do plan to have a website). I guess what I mean is, when you apply somewhere or are wanting to get freelance work, how do you show your client or perspective employer all of your work?

How did you guys put yourself out there and what did you start making at first to get started?



Ps Since I don't have any experience now I am taking on as many collaborative projects with friends in order to practice and add to my future webiste. I am willing to work on anything that I can put sound to. I am currently recording anything and everything in my house in order to build a small sound library.

4 Answers 4


Yes, definitely start from what is nearest: students and people of the same age group that are working on something (films, games, other media) that you can contribute to. Practically every young person pursuing those fields struggles with the same kind of problems as you and almost all need a team of people for working on their projects. Now the competition is absolutely ridiculous, especially, if you're trying to look for gigs through the internet. So, quite simply, in the long and short term, you need to know the people that you can work with and be overly active about what you do, otherwise there might not be much to gain in this field of business I'm afraid. There are many people that "can-do" and have the "can-do" attitude, so keep that in mind.

After you've got something in your portfolio, you may attempt to approach established studios and offer to work for them. It's not a trivial path though, and again, knowing the right people can be very important. As a freelancer, knowing the clients is pretty much a prerequisite for survival.

Given that you specifically mention "sfx career", then it could be very beneficial to try to work out few sound effects libraries as well. And that is something that you can work on your own. And maybe in that case you could approach sound effects recordists and companies rather than media and post-production people and studios.

  • @jocé To add: I think that whatever you do, do something that "generates or adds value". It's a very simple notion that this line of work in general has somewhat superficial value to start with (compared to some other life essential fields/careers), so in this field (to be paid for work) you have to kind of define yourself and your work's value. Define a reason for why you work and what your work adds to anything that you work on. It's your asset and what you use to market yourself. Mar 21, 2013 at 4:38

If there are any local film, animation, or art schools, hang out there, get to know the students, and work on their films. There's usually lots of potential smallish projects coming from there, and since they're still learning it's a great way for you to get your feet wet. It's also a first step towards establishing connections once they graduate.

You'll hear many differing opinions on sound reels; some people love them, others claim that they are completely useless. From what I've heard, they are only rarely considered when you apply for a job, but they can make sense for freelance work. I have gotten the occasional gig through my reel, but even then it was usually because I was recommended by somebody else, and the client wanted to see what I had done.

If you're interested in making a reel, I found this blog post by Kyle Vande Slunt invaluable: Guidelines for Making a Sound Design Demo Reel If you don't have enough projects yet, some people use random clips from films, trailers, or games and do sound design on those for their reel. Just make it absolutely clear that you didn't work on the original.

Overall, I've found that once you start working on projects, have the right attitude and do good work, you will slowly but steadily keep getting more and more gigs.


I recommend this thread: Self-promotion advice

Particularly because my answer to your question would be exactly the way I answered this one. Do your best work, always, and the work will promote itself and open doors for you. It's about building credibility. In brief, this is how I have begun to find my success in weaving through the industry (I say begun because the growth process is years and decades, and it truly never ends). I gather this is likely a sentiment shared by many peers.


What Alex said. I have now freelanced as a set builder for a local theatrical company for over three years (got the first gig thru a friend) and they keep hiring me. When I started out, I cold-called all over town, but didn't really draw anyone's interest. Now I have experience and can namedrop other respected people I have worked with, other possible employers suddenly talk me a lot more seriously.

All this from getting my foot in the door once, working hard, doing what I was told - and being a good colleague and employee (never underestimate the importance of hitting it off with people).

Currently trying to pull off the same thing with an audio career - we'll see how that goes!

  • Well best of luck to you. Thanks for the advice!
    – jocé
    Mar 21, 2013 at 1:46

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