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8 Demo Reel Tips that get you IN THE DOOR


You know how they say "A picture is worth a thousand words"? Well...a video is worth a lot more nowadays. People in this industry need to know :

- Do you look like the headshot you submitted?

- How do you sound?

- Can you act?

- What are your main types/brand ?



That is why now agent&managers, casting directors, filmmakers, etc. want to see your FOOTAGE: Demo Reel, Sizzle Reel, Commercial/Dramatic reels, Special Skill reel, the list goes on...


A reel is often what decides whether you're invited in for an audition, meeting with representation or producers.






Most actors starting out make a ton of mistakes on their reels and repeat THE SAME MISTAKES that make them look amateur, lazy and honestly not desirable(especially when they are plenty of others to choose from who put in the work)



Here are 8 tips to help you put a professional demo reel that GETS YOU IN THE DOOR.



#1 KEEP IT SHORT

People have a very short attention span nowadays. Casting moves very fast (especially TV), so casting directors don't have time to be sitting through your 5 min reel when they get thousands of submissions per role. You want to GRAB their attention, show your main type, skill and strength and make them WANT to see more, not zoning out on min 3 and turning it off.

Unless you have Network Footage, keep your reel to 2min long . (I know it's hard, but trust me, it's plenty of time for industry folks to know whether you are right for their project/agency or not.)






#2 STRONGEST FOOTAGE FIRST

Speaking of GRABBING THEIR ATTENTION, don't waste your precious seconds on warming them up with footage that doesn't immediately show them your strength, range and TYPE. WOW them with your strongest material and the role that they can cast you in TOMORROW. They may not get to your clip #4 where you are the most honest, vulnerable, interesting etc. Know your TOP SELLER and present it FIRST.




#3 NO MONTAGE


This is probably the #1 pet peeve that you'll hear from casting directors in any market. Again they want to HEAR you and BELIEVE your acting. Seeing your face on the screen with a sad music in the background doesn't impress anyone and doesn't say anything about you as an actor. It might be good for an editors reel, but not for actors.

Especially montage in the beginning of your work will 99% of the time automatically take you out of the running and make you look unprofessional. Cut it OUT.



#4 START & END WITH YOU


Your reel should START with your FACE and END with your face. You don't want to confuse the viewer. Who's reel is it? Especially if it's an actor similar to your type. Your reel is the TRAILER OF YOU AND YOUR WORK. Make sure it's not lost in translation.



#5 NO THEATER/OLD FOOTAGE


You don't need a reel to audition for Theater. You need one for on screen acting, that's why industry people what to see the footage from your work ON SCREEN (Whether its film, TV, commercial, web series, etc). Not to mention that theater footage is almost always bad sound, bad quality, far away and not INTIMATE enough for an on camera performance.


Same goes for OLD FOOTAGE. It's great if you had a huge part in a professional indie film or a role on a known TV show. Thats awesome! BUT. It's not going to help you or your agent NOW. It'll look good on your resume (gives you credibility), but doesn't sell you or help your casting in the market NOW. Keep it for good memories, not for your marketing materials.



#6 YOUR REEL SHOULD HAVE PROGRESSION


You know how there are so many trailers out now that take forever and basically show you the whole movie? I don't know about you, but I typically loose interest and most of the time DON'T WANT TO WATCH IT after. I like trailers that take me on a little journey, roller coster, just enough to INTRIGUE me to make me WANT MORE.

Make sure your demo reel scenes take a viewer on a journey. If drama is your strength, open up with that and then towards the end show them a lighthearted version of you and make them laugh for example. Don't "milk" the same type of character/scene through out your reel, it's BORING.



#7 QUALITY VS QUANTITY

This should have been #1. The main reason demo reels are not being watched till the end or at all is because the video and sound quality is BAD. This is your main calling card outside of your headshot, do you really want to present yourself( your business and product essentially) in a bad light? It's very difficult to overcome a BAD FIRST IMPRESSION. It's best to not submit ANY REEL than a CRAPPY one. Have respect for the industry that you want to work and have success in, DO THE WORK. ONLY quality footage.


#8 CLIPS + DEMO REEL


Because casting moves so fast, split your reel in clips based on your types/brand. It'll increase your chances and help your agent or your self submission process. Give them EXACTLY what they are looking for and FAST without overwhelming or confusing them with more choices.


P.S. This is primarily for projects, fo agents/managers submission you'd want a REEL or REEL+CLIPS.




There are so many more points to be made to truly make your reel GET YOU IN THE DOOR, but this is a great START.









Which of the mentioned tips do you need to work on the most? Let me know in the comments below!



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