My husband worked as a commercial talent agent in 2016. I remember one day, he came home and said to me, “I just heard that we shouldn’t even look at submissions or actors’ profiles, unless they have demo reels.” I was surprised, but not by much - it makes sense. After all, how is a casting director supposed to glean your acting chops based on headshots and resumes alone? Demo reels are key to showcasing your abilities and are an industry standard.
Creating a Demo Reel Out of Thin Air
The number one question my students ask me when I relay the above story to them is, “How can I post or send a demo reel to an agent, manager, or CD if I’ve never performed and am just getting started in the industry?” The answer is simple: DIY-it! But doing-it-yourself doesn’t mean to do it unprofessionally. There are plenty of talent development studios - like Studio 27, for example - that offer services like audition taping and/or demo reel filming as well as offering a demo reel class. As long as you vet the studio and coaches beforehand, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to take a class in something like how to make an excellent demo reel.
All that said, if you’re looking to just go ahead and shoot your demo reel, then make sure you prep beforehand! Prepare two scenes - one dramatic, one comedic - and two monologues (same for the monologues as the scenes, meaning, prepare one dramatic monologue and one comedic monologue). That way, you’ll have plenty of material to choose from when editing. Make sure that all of the scenes and monologues come from film or television shows.
A Good Reading
Be sure that you also choose an excellent reader. If your reader is also an actor, even better - just make sure that they don’t upstage you. However, a good reader should know never to do that, especially when they’re shooting another actor’s demo reel! A well-trained instructor would likely be your best bet.
After all that, you should be able to edit your demo reel scenes in free, simple-to-use software, like iMovie - or, you can use Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro X, if you’re feeling especially fancy. iMovie works just fine, though!
Interested in having your demo reel critiqued or just have one you really want to show off? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us more!