At Calltime, we obviously see a lot of demo reels and get asked all of the time, “What is the best way to make a demo reel?”
We decided to put together a list below of 9 tips for building great demo reels.
1. Only show your best material.
So often, people make the mistake of compiling a montage of every show they’ve ever done but the footage that casting directors/producers want to see are those appropriately highlighting your abilities and personality. Include clips that feature YOU, not the other performers who are in the same scene. If some of your best work includes a scene partner or other performers on stage, make sure you clearly identify who you are in order to make it easy for the viewer to know who they should be watching.
2. Demo reel video length of 1 minute maximum.
It is ideal to showcase yourself in a condensed amount of time, as casting offices watch dozens upon dozens of demo reels each day. Lead with your strongest work in order to immediately captivate casting personnel. Remember, your first impression needs to convince them you’re right for the part. If your reel extends beyond one minute you risk losing the attention of the viewer.
3. No fancy editing.
The professional quality of your demo reel is important to the viewer. If you are capable of editing your own reel make sure transitions are clean and simple. Casting directors are not interested in seeing an elaborate fade in and fade out that can easily steal the spotlight from your work. If you’re unable to produce a professional quality reel, invest in professional editing services.
4. No long intro before showcasing your material.
It’s not discouraged to include a creative intro with titles and graphics, but don’t let it linger. The intro before showcasing your material should immediately identify who you are. Your contact information should be at both the start and the end of your reel, and should include your name, phone number, email address, website, agency (if applicable), and headshot, so there’s no confusion about how you can be reached.
5. Good camera work
To add a level of professionalism to your demo reel it’s best to use a high quality, high-definition camera. If your demo reel includes professional production clips, choose footage where the camera is steady, in focus, and your face can clearly be seen. Otherwise, using a tripod is preferred if you are including non-production show footage.
6. Good audio (quality and volume)
Having a demo reel with excellent audio quality and volume balance is essential. It is recommended to use the audio from the production footage but if you decide to use music as a tool to aid with transitions into the next clip, keep it simple. Not only can the choice of music potentially distract the viewer but in most cases that don’t involve singers, casting directors will turn off the sound so they can focus on the technical, physical, and artistic aspects of the performer’s presentation. If you are submitting production show footage as a singer, your vocals should stand out above the backing tracks. The sound should be clear and free from static and feedback interferences. If you include non-production show footage, make sure the room is quiet. It is preferred to find a space with acoustics as it can flatter your vocal talent.
7. Good Lighting
Make sure you are well lit to make it easier for the viewer to clearly establish who you are. If your image is obscure, casting directors will not take the time to search for you.
Unless your demo reel includes production clips where heavy makeup is worn you should always aim for the natural look. Casting directors want an idea of how you look on a daily basis. Try to avoid shimmery makeup and go for a matte look.
9. Nice form fitting clothing
Spend time thinking about your wardrobe and the impression you will make. If your demo reel features non-production show footage, wear something that suits you and shows off your physique.
If you have any other tips that have worked for you, we would love to hear from you.
Thanks for visiting Calltime.
The Calltime Team