Acting : Having a acting reel is critical! by William Scherer

William Scherer

Having a acting reel is critical!

I recently had a casting call looking for a teenage girl and her older step mom for an independent movie I was producing and directing. As I live in the middle of California I went through three different casting websites, one from SF, one from LA and the other one "National". I was shocked when I saw that roughly 80% of the actors, SAG and non-SAG did not have any video reels showing their work. It told me that if they were not even professional enough to create a reel or even a clip on themselves, then I wouldn't waste my time contacting them. Years ago when I was an actor and before good video was around, it was difficult for actors to get film on themselves because they hadn't been cast in anything yet or doing their own scenes on film with rented cameras was cost prohibited. The smart ones went to college film departments and volunteered their time for student films. Actors, today there is no excuse for not having a reel showing your work! That tells me you are lazy and unprofessional. Everyone has a video camera/phone. I have seen 20 minute movies shot on I-phones which looked great on my computer monitor. Professional sound is not important. Music is not necessary and the editing doesn't even have to be good. The scene you do must however have another person in it so that you may react to them. Monologues are a waste of time. Directors are mainly looking for what you do with your face and body when you are not speaking. The speaking part is easy. Copy a scene from a movie or TV show that has a character similar to yours. Then go out and have your mom or roommate shoot it. Two or three short scenes showing your range are best. If you have little or no range, just one good scene. The camera used is not important. HD is great if you have it available. Lighting must show your eyes. If you don't have good lights shoot it during the day in the shade. Beware of people who want to charge you a lot for professional cameras and pro lighting. If you don't have a good scene (with another actor) that challenges your acting ability and one that you do well, then the best camera gear in the world will not convince someone to hire you. Hope this helps--

Joey Ortega

Great Post William. Thanks :) It's funny, I have been working on updating my promo stuff and was just thinking about my reel options and the wisest way to go in terms of form and creators. There are a lot of scammers out there and one can never be to careful in this business :/ lol

Simon © Simon

I disagree with the Monologue are a waste of time. There are others who will disagree about having a reel all together. (Been debated here). My defense of a Monloogue is if someone can pull you in and enthrall you with their mono, I think it is better then a person running with a gun, or acting like themselves, with a camera on. Those who can own a mono are truly actors. Those of you who do not think so. Go try it. Monos are tough, for a good reason. If you think you can act practice with one, you will get your ass kicked the first few times. Like Lead guitar opposed to rhythm. We all have our opinions like belly buttons, that was mine and yours was yours. As far as a shaky shooter IGE: Mom or Roommate....sounds like a dis-service. On any given day there are at least 3 projects going on that one could get involved with especially on the free or for exchange. Run and ad, be it here or Craigslist. There are plenty of shooters. Just do us all big favor and do not let the craigs people know about this place please....Unless of course they are genuine and not porn flim flam.

Darwin Carlisle

As a maker of demo reels, I think you're all right in a way, even Simon who questions the importance of having a reel at all. There are some actors who can do fine without a reel, because they have the right connections and personality to get themselves into auditions that matter without any prior material. But there are other actors for whom a reel can be a career game-changer, by showing a manager or agent that you can play a Detective or a Barber or a Villain, etc, who can then shoot the link over to a friend who's scouring through hundreds of reels and photos looking for people to call in. In the best case, a reel can change you personally by showing to you that you can play good, solid roles when all the elements are in the right place. There's no universal rule when it comes to reels. The only questions are - does it hold the viewers interest? And of course, does it present you as a good actor?

Daren Allen Seifert

I think demo reels are important for anyone in the film industry. I hardly act. I mostly write, film, and edit. Though I was talking a fellow cinematographer and he was surprised that I had made so many films and didn't have a demo reel. I have made one now, but haven't really seen the positive side of it yet. I believe it is right around the corner though.

Simon © Simon

Darwin I think you read to fast....I did not question the reel. I am an advocate of them. I think if someone is too lazy to have one then why would I want to bother casting someone? Like William's original thought. That is one view as is, are they for real? Personally the people I have had best experience with and prefer to work with, or cast are those who know what a stage whisper is. Those are usually the same who can in fact, do a monologue that not only draws you in but really know theatre. Again as someone who edits too, I sure can tell a stiff actor when I see one. Hence my thought on a shaky demo or poorly mixed / edited one. You want a job you put your best suit on, bring in an unwrinkled resume on nice paper and be cleaned up. Why is acting any different? Get your reel, put your best suit on make sure it is cleaned up with preferably nice edits. If you want to be taken seriously. Unless you are a prodigy or hired on the spot like Clint Eastwood.

Daren Allen Seifert

Oh no I wasn't replying to you. Just the main topic. Sorry for the confusion.

Simon © Simon

You too Daren. Reading too fast, that was directed at Darwin who mentioned me. (smiles everyone, smiles) Although Daren and Darwin are really close looking especially since you only use one "N" No biggie I just did not want this thread to go all 'telephone' where I did not state something Darwin stated I had, is all.

Daren Allen Seifert

Hahaha I thought you just confused my name. I'm just going to back away slowly.

Tim Newhouse

I have made Demos for friends and i agree its great to have. However as a working Director i usually only spend perhaps no longer than 2 seconds viewing someones reel before moving on. Lots of actors submit so casting can be a bit overwhelming. You can learn a lot in even just 2 seconds.

William E Bales

William Scherer I agree that most actors do not have demo reels. However I would also like to point out that many actors who have been in movies automatically think that producers and casting agents will accept the credit of the movie as it's been credited on their IMDB resume and feel that if they want to see them act, they will have to search through the movie to watch them act. I have also seen other "promoters, managers and agents" not follow through with completing the resume information to make things easier to get their clients noticed more. It's like not putting in all the skills that you have on a resume and trying to get a role that you know how to do using the skill that wasn't listed. But what gets me is that if they have any kind of representation that is worth anything, it is up to that representative to present their client in the best way they know how. In my opinion if can not or do not want to take the time to present and represent yourself then you should find a representative that represents you and pays attention to details. The more time it takes to have a producer find your website, or look over your resume and then have to go hunting for information simply makes the producer or casting director want to move on to the next actor. Everything should be at their fingertips. I put the actual entering times that my client begins their role in the movie or show so that they can skip to that timeline if they wish or be ready to watch for them during the viewing time.

Eve Edelson

Trying to cast a film now and (so far) most of the people listed as actors here on Stage32 do not have links to a reel or even a resume, or at least a link to a personal website with more information. Actors, please tell us more about yourselves. One photo is not enough.

Eve Edelson

OK thanks, one link is fine. Looks like you did a lot of work. fyi, (the main site) doesn't load, and I'd rather not look at each link you posted. 3daydemo -- I loaded one of the pages and the sound from one video seemed to play while another video was showing. And then some robot voice started up. Is that what you intended? Thanks for your work. [ and please no more links, they generate emails, lots and lots of email...]

Michael Welsh

Good reproof.

Josephine Pizzino

I haven't put together a reel but do have links to projects I'm in, such as trailers, commercials. Are these not acceptable?

Chara Burgh

I think that's terribly unfair and that not having a reel doesn't automatically make you unprofessional. I would not want to watch someone's reel if it was half-assed, shot with a crappy camera phone and looked like it was thrown together in 2 minutes. I think that is more unprofessional. Many actors are working on building solid reels and coming across as professional; should they not submit to student films & other work because they don't have a reel? That's kind of a catch 22. When I was building my reel, I tried to just film something to add to it, but it's kind of hard to do when you don't have people willing to help or a ton of money to pay someone to help. Needless to say, the footage looked like crap and I would have been embarrassed and ashamed to add that to what is supposed to be a professional reel. If you've been acting for a while and have plenty of clips to add but don't make your reel, then yea, you are probably lazy and acting isn't that important to you, but it's not fair to knock people down who want to create something they are proud of and not film a selfie camera phone shot reel. Not to mention for castings, you can always hold recorded auditions prior to in-person auditions to see who is right for a part, how they portray the character, etc.

Jennifer Pollock

I def. agree that having a reel, or at least clips representing our work is crucial to allowing casting agents, producers, managers, etc. to see what we're capable of. It would actually be great in a forum like Stage 32, to get feedback on what we do have on our walls from these same people, to know if what we do have posted is sufficient enough and shows enough range to give a good showing.

Josephine Pizzino

Yes! Maybe this could be a separate category here in Stage 32: Rate My Reel! We submit a clip and get feedback. It should be separate from the usual feeds, because I certainly don't want an email every time someone uploads a clip!

Martin Johnston

I agree with William about how essential a show reel is. The esteemed British casting director, Debbie McWilliams, who casts all the James Bond films, says that it is a vital part of an actors self-promotion and armoury, having a show reel or acting reel, as some know it, instantly speaks volumes about you in real time. More than a piece of paper can with credits or a headshot. It is highly likely that without one, you will miss out on a great deal of work. Given the highly pressurised and deadline driven work of casting, anything you can do to quicken the casting experience, like having a show reel readily available on all the leading casting websites, enables a CD to make a quick but professional decision. Not having one may result in you missing out altogether. Does it say you're less professional? Perhaps, no! But it can suggest that you aren't taking your talents seriously enough in terms of promoting you and your work to other professionals. Anything that enables you to be seen by as many decision-makers as possible, is a sensible investment especially in todays technological and immediate world.

Jas Nada

Is there one place vs. another that it's better to have your demo reel on? Examples would be YouTube vs. Vimeo vs physical media?

Jennifer Pollock

In addition to here on Stage 32, mine are on You Tube and on my IMDb page. I think those tend to be the most widely recognized and used in this industry

Martin Johnston

Here in the UK we have a recognised casting website Spotlight, so naturally there, if you have your own website make sure it's featured on that but You Tube and, if you are a member Likewise, mine is also on here. In truth, I would place it everywhere and anywhere reputable. Make sure you tag it appropriately, so it will appear in general searches. I also attach it to professional emails I send out and occasionally promote it via Twitter (in the hope that someone somewhere might see it!). In other words don't limit yourself but ensure that it is available in connection with your profile on any professional based casting website.

Jas Nada

I'll have to pass this on to some actor friends that haven't gotten much work lately. Thanks for the input!

Rhonda Husak

Thanks for the info. I have a reel but it needs updated.Should you include scenes from projects you've done years ago?

Carlin Comm

This seems like a great networking opportunity! Actors, reach out to your camera people, etc. Most of the new cameras shoot to flash memory, so there isn't even tape cost anymore. Form some informal groups, shoot some scenes, make youtube videos or what ever. Working / playing is better than sitting home waiting for the phone to ring, yes? Note to self, this seems like a good year to get back into the game :)

Christopher Kardos

Rhonda, my answer would be, if they show range and help you diversify your reel, than yes, include footage even from years ago.

Martin Johnston

I don't know if it s different in the US but here in the UK demo/show/acting reels should last no more than 3-4 minutes. Anything longer doesn't serve you too well. Have the most recent at the front and perhaps having a montage, if you think it shows you in a different light, might well work but the stronger elements of a reel are your ability to show how you handle script/dialogue and how you work and interact with others in situ.

Michael Savage Aka Sirtony

As an Award Winning pioneer filmmaker and creator of 3 Day Demo...a service that Creates a Career of films with you starring in them...correct ...just go to the site ...and see the Historic work... it will help answer many questions...when you see the Pioneer seeing is believing...have a great Journey..

Other topics in Acting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In