You have made the decision that you want to become a serious working actor and either snag an agent or audition for a role. So what is the next step that you need to take you may be asking? Making your self a casting/demo reel. This is essentially your advertisement to people showing all you are capable of doing in the acting world. Casting or demo reels are used to send to agents and or casting directors in order to grab their attention by putting selections of your highest quality material together in order to get them to want to sign and represent/cast you in a role. Casting/Demo reels are quickly becoming the most important part of professional casting submissions- even more important to some, than headshots and resumes. Many actors use clips from student films, independent films, web series, or privately produced productions to make their reel. But if you are just starting out it is acceptable to record yourself (or someone record you), performing various scenes. Below are a few tips and suggestions that you may find helpful in beginning your journey to making your casting/demo reel!
Do and Don’ts to Remember!
- Casting Reel should be 60-90 seconds tops. No longer. You don’t want to do the entire scene or show your entire part from the play you are using…leave them wanting MORE!
- Most of the time the viewer decides if they like you from in the first 10 seconds, so GET their attention and KEEP it!
- Know your type (what types of characters you are best at playing (examples: Comedy, Preppy, Serious, Dramatic etc.) and focus your material in a way that highlights it. As your reel continues you can diversify and show your range.
- If using more than one clip have each self contained, and run about 15-20 seconds depending on the amount of clips.
- Label each individual clip; at the top of the clip
- This way you will have a large variety of clips to choose from and the viewer can pick and choose which they want to see or send.
- Make your reel easy for people to view; instead of emailing the intended person a huge email file they will have to download then load. Try making it a click-able link...this could be the difference between getting seen or ending up getting deleted.
- Make your reel focus on YOU! Even if other actors are in the scene, avoid covering them too much.
- At least 75% of your reel should cover you, they want to see your face, emotions, and how you convey yourself, and your body movements because as we all know these things can make or break a scene!
- Have someone who has an objective eye (NOT your mother or other family members who think nothing YOU do can be wrong/different/better!) to help you edit to get to your final copy.
- Make sure your reel is good quality (High Definition) and professional.
- Finally, make sure your contact information is easily viewable in the video. You want them to be able to contact you without having to hire a decoder to decipher your information. After all that hard work you want them to be able to easily contact you when they realize you are the next SUPERSTAR!
How to Make a Casting Reel!
- Get sides (aka Script)
- Slate into camera -If the audition you are doing the reel for has their specific set of slate rules follow theirs.
- Then turn head a little and look next to the camera
- Deliver lines (scene)
- Look back at camera when you are done with lines/scene
- Person who is assisting with the scene/other character should not read lines exaggerated, but in a tone above mono-tone
- When the script calls for direction (such as character closes door; take the direction but minimize it) so pretend you are closing the door or whatever the direction states, but NEVER turn your back to the camera even if in script.
- Make sure you have a plain background/wall (no bright colors stick with neutrals such as white, cream, beige, etc.)
- Wear solid color shirt with absolutely no logos, patterns, pictures, or other distracting things. Also make sure it compliments your skin tone
- Appearance should be clean cut, nothing extravagant, look presentable!
*Last but not least… Remember the golden rule when it comes to Casting Reels: “No Reel is BETTER than a BAD reel”.