5 Elements of a Polished Acting Demo Reel

demo reel

Regardless of your career path, there are some tools of the trade that will be necessary for you to get your foot in the door of your dream career. Whether it’s a short-order cook or a chef at a high-end restaurant, experience and training are required. An administrative or executive assistant will have a resume that shows office experience and experience working with those in senior management in a company. A doctor and dentist have years of schooling and examinations to show that they are qualified to do their job. Discover what casting managers, producers, and directors look for when casting for commercials and movies and the five elements of a polished acting reel.

Like many looking for work, actors also have paper resumes as a quick reference point to the work that they have previously done. Instead of trying to remember on the spot the work they’ve done, their credentials are presented to make it easier for casting. However, it is hard for actors to show their true range of talent on paper which is why a polished demo reel is vital.

Listed below are five elements of a polished acting reel:

Keep your reel under two minutes.

When movie executives or casting directors look at your acting reel, you want them to be engaged and excited to see what you can do. Giving them a lot of your work is great but many are working on deadlines and sometimes short attention spans. Therefore, keeping your acting reel under two minutes is ideal. Those two minutes should include five or six different scenes so that nothing is overexposed and they get a good idea about what you can do. Consider it an audition that you have control over.

Choose your own scenes.

Although there are professionals out there to help produce your reel, only you know the image that you want to portray. That means that selecting your own scenes for your acting reel is important. Whether you have scenes from previous work or scenes that you will be acting out for your reel, having control over what makes the cut gives you creative control of the image that is released of you.

Cut scenes short to get more of you.

If you’ve performed on film and had a role that includes multiple lines, lucky you. If you consider using that film in your acting reel, use it wisely. That means hiring a company that will edit the film so that your demo reel runs smoothly and includes only lines with you speaking or that focus on you. These companies edit the film so that your creativity is spotlighted and on display for producers.

Don’t include a montage in your acting reel.

A series of images of you that are either moving or still and put together to create a continuous movie or snippet of you is a montage. It is not wise to include a montage in your acting reel because it does not show you acting. Although they may show you in a great light and be beautiful pictures of you, in the end, they are simply pictures of you and therefore, don’t actually show you “acting.” Including a montage in your acting reel is a waste of the two minutes that you have to show yourself and your work.

Put your strongest scenes first.

Since you only have a few minutes to show yourself to anyone looking at the tape, you want to include your strongest scenes early on at the beginning of your acting reel. This may mean soliciting the advice of those you trust to ensure that directors and producers see the best that you have to offer. That means that your favorite scene may not be your strongest scene and what you like may have to go at the end.

Like many looking for work, actors also have paper resumes as a quick reference point to the work that they have previously done. However, they have tools far greater than their resume and that includes a polished demo reel. The five elements of a polished acting reel are listed below and essential to showing the best parts of your creative range as possible.

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