Tips on Creating the Perfect Actors’ Show-Reel

A show-reel (sometimes referred to as a demo reel) is an excellent way to highlight your abilities to potential directors. If you can’t make the viewer sit up and pay attention in that time, you’re not going to get hired.

In 30 seconds of video time you need to tell a story of all your aptitude, specific to the position for which you’re applying. Why 30 seconds? Because on average, that’s about as long as anyone watches before making a preliminary decision – yes, no or maybe.

Remember, there are probably hundreds of other reels that were seen that day, and possibly hundreds to go. Make your moment count.

If you’re a multi-faceted individual in the entertainment industry you’ll probably want to make several reels each focused on different areas, and one that tries to share the global picture. Now, it might seem difficult to present everything you want to say in that time but if you think it like making a commercial about yourself, you’ll be more successful. If you must make a longer reel, put your best foot forward in that 30 seconds, but don’t let your material run over three minutes.

It’s absolutely necessary to remember to state the position for which you’re applying, that the material look and feel professional, that the editing is clean, cohesive, and concise, and that the work you’re presenting is wholly your own.

If there are any collaborative pieces you MUST indicate proper credits somewhere.

If you’re including segments from various shows, make sure to identify them for the director/reviewer. And whatever you do, make sure you give the potential employer a way to contact you ON THE REEL. That way if your cover letter got lost along the way, you won’t just get tossed into an “unknown” bin.

Speaking of cover letter, don’t forget that just because you’ve provided an A/V (audio/visual for those of you who are not technical) piece doesn’t mean that your cover letter can be sub-standard.

This is not the time for cutesy attention grabbers like writing in purple crayon (true story!). Use a professional looking letter head, include a business card if you have one, add a good head shot and a CV and you’ll come across as the experienced individual that employers seek.


Also published on Medium.

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