Your reel is hands down your most important marketing material as an actor.
YES, your headshot is the thing that casting directors see FIRST when they’re sifting through submissions.
Yes, your headshot is the first thing that an agent or manager will see when you submit to them for representation.
But right after looking at your headshot, they press play on your reel and sit back.
What happens next… makes or breaks if you get that audition or meeting.
Because your reel is the proof of your pudding.
It’s you putting your money where your mouth is.
It’s the EVIDENCE that you are indeed a good actor.
You can have a stunning photo that always catches people’s eyes on a page full of other actors… but does your reel back it up?
Does your reel make it easy for casting directors say YES to bringing you in for auditions?
Does your reel make it a slam dunk with agents and managers calling you in for meetings?
Does your reel showcase YOUR strengths?
Keep reading to see the makings of a good reel and if your current material fits the bill or if you should update your footage STAT.
Your reel needs to:
✨ Shine with your castability
✨ Feature the “meat” of the scenes
✨ Be short, sweet, and specific
✨ Showcase your strengths as an actor
Cast yourself as characters you SHOULD be cast as
Reel Tip #1 ✨
It shines with your castability.
What shows could you be cast on TOMORROW?
What characters and types that are currently featured on television/film could you play with your eyes closed?
What would casting directors practically jump out of their chair to cast you as?
THAT is what needs to be featured on your reel.
Step one: Know your cast ability through and through.
Step two: Showcase that in your headshots and reel.
Step three: Get tons of great auditions and the attention of fabulous rep.
Reep Tip #2 ✨
Cut the fat and feature the “meat”
You don’t need a full 2 minute scene.
I guarantee you out of that 2 minute scene – 35-55 seconds of it was the MEAT.
Trim all the fat around the meat. You have such a short amount of time to catch the attention of the people viewing your material – grab them right off the get go.
The story doesn’t have to make perfect sense in a reel scene.
Cherry pick the best parts and serve them up.
Reep Tip #3 ✨
Make it short, sweet, and specific
You only need 2-3 short clips showing specific characters and specific slices of your castability and strengths.
And each scene really only needs to be 30 seconds… That’s enough to show someone your special sauce and convince them to call you in and give you a shot.
What are three “specific slices of your strengths” you want to serve up to people?
Reel Tip #4 ✨
It needs to showcase your strengths
What are your strengths as an actor?
Do you do great dead pan comedy that Aubrey Plaza would be jealous of?
Are you a totally hottie pa tottie and make people blush without trying?
Do you love a good cry fest and drama is YOUR THING?
What are you amazing at? Showcase that.
Your reel is a declaration of what you think you’re BEST AT.
Reel Tip #5 ✨
If you haven’t gotten cast as this character yet…
Cast yourself in the role.
Gone are the days where you need professional material shot on a great camera or to use footage from a project you got cast in.
All you need is a great self-tape set-up (if you don’t have one call a friend or go to a local self-tape studio) and film it yourself.
And self-tape setups cost under $100. So there’s no excuse anymore why you can’t have great footage. Also – everyone only cares about the quality of your acting at the end of the day.