Acting : Self-taped demo reels. by Erin Groves

Erin Groves

Self-taped demo reels.

I have a question for all of you actors, producers, casting directors and the like. I wanted to ask, what is your take on self-taped demo-reels? What I mean is, taking the time to film a self-taped scene in an 'audition sense. In front of a plain background with great lighting. Kinda like I said earlier, in a self-taped audition sense. Where you're just reading (and acting obvi!) in front of a camera with the other person reading with you. What is your take on doing something like that for an amateur demo-reel?

Kazz Lewsader

I have spoken with 2 casting directors about this idea. I'm told your reel should not be staged but rather should come from actual projects you've done. One of these casting directors (Amy Jo Berman) insists if you self tape or purchase a reel from a company who provides scenes, etc., professional industry people can always tell. I caution you about this because once you put something like that out there, you can't take it back. You want the industry to know you're a professional. I could be all wrong about this, Erin. Please check with some local experts such as your agent or manager, casting directors, directors, etc.

Jorge J Prieto

I recently did a self tape for CBS, they provided the monologues and gave the instructions. So, it all depends on who you are doing it for. Btw you can dozens of self help videos on the subject on YouTube. Good luck.

Debbie Croysdale

A plain background with great lighting is brave, but can showcase genuine talent in a unique don't need props. Years back i did auditions in cash strapped theatres where it was just a white paper backdrop. People are looking at you and your talent. However i would get someone who regularly works a cine camera so the technical side does not have obvious visual errors that distract from an otherwise good performance. Human emotion is not dependent on expensive props, or Spielberg epic scenes, less can be more.

Tony Fisher

It all depends on the project your auditioning for, most of the auditions I have gone in for have asked for just individual clips. Which is great for me as trying to get your showreel footage back is a nightmare.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

As a non-actor, my suggestion would be 'do what they want' From what I've seen and also heard from actor friends, whoever is doing the casting will have something particular in mind. When in doubt, ask. And yes, I understand that a self taped reel takes time and so cannot be produced instantly. But the actors I know who have taped auditions have always had the sides supplied by those doing the casting.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

On the other hand, see #2 here (from another Stage 32 post on acting).

Phil Duran

I agree with Kazz. If it's for the purposes of a reel, Casting Directors want to see actual work that you have done, as that is what most accurately shows your abilities. It does take time to accumulate material for a reel, but the wait is worth it. Also, don't discount the value of individual clips of your work. Even if you only have one or two clips (not enough for a reel) they can still be included with submissions or posted online to give Casting Directors a look at your work.

Kazz Lewsader

Good advice, Phil. I have actually broken my reel into 3 different clips. I select and attach the most appropriate one to each audition submission.

Andrew Bee

Get it professionally done. A demo reel is the only thing casting directors can see until you are actually in the room. If it is unprofessional, it screams "amateur". Also, so much is done online now that decisions are often made from the reel. What is also changing is that cd's are not even watching entire clips. They often only want to see 15-30 seconds of an appropriate scene, like Kazz wrote. Be patient and wait until you have good material, and then use it.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Erin - one other thought. Before you integrate material into your reel, you might consider letting other people, actor friends, take a look. (As a writer, I trade material for comments with other writers I know from time to time. And it often works.)

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