Acting : To Reel or NOT to Reel? by Patricia Urbonas Clark

Patricia Urbonas Clark

To Reel or NOT to Reel?

I am new to the film industry, though I have done theater for a number of years. I keep getting mixed messages on having a reel. A lot of the film work I have done so far are shorts and I have not as yet paid someone to put together a demo reel for me. I don't actually as yet have copies of those productions. I get some advice saying casting directors don't care about seeing a reel, just resume and head shot, and others who won't look at me without a reel. I live in the Midwest, so most of my work is coming from south of Chicago, though I do have some work scheduled for Chi-town now. Does anyone out there have (especially Casting Directors) have some advice?

Daiquan Smith

I have had my reel completed only for a few months, and have booked jobs solely on that. Get your footage, and get a reel made. I could recommend my guy, he was great, and was done with it in like a week

Jay Pulk

Hello Patricia, I'm not a casting director, but when I'm doing casting for my films, I personally like to take time to watch reels, because it helps me to narrow down the actors that I want to call in. If I see that someone isn't right for a role, I don't call them in, and it saves both of us time and energy in an audition. But some people don't have time to watch reels, and prefer to work from head shots and resumes alone. So maybe the importance of having a reel depends on who is actually doing the casting. In either case, having a reel wouldn't hurt, and it may help.

Deanna Rashell

Definitely "To Reel", when I'm casting on the fly, I only see actors with a reel and honestly being an actor myself, I know that auditions are often misleading and don't usually show how an can truly perform so definitely get a reel, preferably, 2 min or less, mine is 3:30 and it's too long, I'm working on cutting it down a bit.

Del Harvey

Absolutely. You have to "Reel." The hard part is getting the footage to keep it updated. But even if it's dusty, producers and directors and casting people want to see you moving and talking.

Jacob Solinger

I do a lot of casting and I would rather have a slate than a fake demo but many ask for a demo so you have to have one. Remember the worst piece on your demo is how they will judge you and put the best right up front. Do not put fancy introductions, graphics, music etc. They want to see if you can act not make a good film. Many actors make the mistake of putting a clip where they say 5 words but are standing next to a TV star. That will not get you cast. No more than 4-5 minutes long and assume they will watch the first 90 seconds if you are lucky.

Gillian McAuley

As an both an agent and a casting director I'd say DEFNITELY 'To Reel!' Casting directors are always incredibly busy and get 100s of applications for each role so they need as much information as possible in order to narrow down a casting shortlist. Even for theatre, we still want to see how you move, speak and - of course - act! A well thought out reel will also tell us within seconds whether or not you're the right casting for the role. Wihout a reel, you're definitely limiting the number of auditions for which you'll be called in. x

Deanna Rashell

If you go to YouTube and type in backstage how to make a demo reel, there are some really great videos put up by Back Stage on exactly what goes into your reel and what doesn't, hope that helps! Plus if you have a mac, imovie is really easy once you dig in and start playing with it, if you don't you have "windows movie maker" on your pc and that can be used too, it's not as user friendly but if you have patience and use the help files you can figure it out!

Richard "RB" Botto

Terrific discussion, guys...Agree with all...TO REEL!

Gary Craig

Patricia, my advice is to have as much in your arsenal as possible. While some don't care about the reel...some do. So why not have it there? It's true may jobs are booked off a headshot and resume. But then they might ask the question, "Can she act?" There lies the reason for the reel. Pat, when you get your footage..send it to me, and I'd be more than happy to put together a reel for you. Look at my reel:

Marcello Aurelio Lanfranchi

I have a lot of friends who are indie film producers, and most, if not all, find them useful when casting. I've led two productions, and I gave weight to actors whose reels I watched.

Richard Trombly

have as many tools in your arsenal as possible. If a casting director does not want a reel? fine ... but you look better for being able to offer one. I certainly look at a reel when offered and it does make me feel that the actor really feels they are a professional and have taken the time and effort to reflect on that and to market themselves as a professional . it is also the way to make your talents shine. do not do VOLUME. less is more. chose your best ... --- and break a leg.

Natasha Dixon

I say reel. We just finished casting for a film I am producing and the people who had a reel got first priority. They had their reel accessible via Breakdowns Service(Actors Access) and Now Casting. Even if it is a scene you have a friend tape. The producers and director want to know what you look like on camera. Headshots alone really don't convey your essence.

Joe Becker

I agree. unless your acting really sucks, it can't hurt. the more tools you have, the easier it is to market yourself. if you have a reel on youtube, even if it's unlisted, you can easily share a link with a director, casting director, producer... you should have an EPK (electronic press kit). a free website can work. all you need is your photo, a bio, a resume and your reel and you've got a good start. you should do a short monologue to include in the reel, but like I tape a few actors at a time. that way we can show how you interact with other actors. casting directors want to know how you look on camera AND how you fit with the other actors in the cast.

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