Monday, August 24, 2009

How To Get An Amazing Demo Reel

So August is Demo Reel Month and I have received a few tips from Gwyn Gilliss @TAM

I would like to share these tips with you!

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1- Choose Roles That Show Your "Type" And Range. That means how would you be cast in Primetime/Daytime TV and Films TODAY? Almost all TV series are written in a consistent format which includes classic types: Interns/Doctors, Lawyers/Criminals, Detectives/Investigators, Spies/CIA agents, Geeks/Ordinary people and Sexy women doing something naughty or illegal. That's why we have series like; House, NCIS, Raising the Bar, Law & Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, 24, Desperate Housewives, Burn Notice, How I Met your Mother, 30 Rock, etc... OK, so you need to show WHAT characters in WHICH of these shows you could play. If the clip you want to put on your reel isn't in the genre of one of the above shows, exclude it. Simple.

2- Don't put "Heavily Dramatic" Scenes on your reel. This is the biggest mistake of beginners who want something "juicy" and "serious" to show they can act. Wrong. Good acting is subtle. Did you ever notice that most student films include a lot of screaming, heavy drama, crying, yelling obscenities and firing of guns? They think it's cool. The real industry does not. Scenes that are clever, fast-paced, witty or humorous, entertaining, intelligent and subtle are closer to the real thing. Go for those. 3 - Don't Include the Horror, Alien Or Other Sci-Fi With Special Effects Scenes. Exclude anything overly graphic, gratuitously violent and unwatchable. First time indie directors love these scenes because it fulfills their agenda to produce a sensational, money-making, low-budget first feature. It doesn't fulfill YOUR agenda. No A-list Casting Director or top Agent wants a client whose tacky
demonstration of talent consists of being pursued across the Mall's parking lot
by a maniac wielding a chain saw. Get something better to represent you if
you want representation and any work at all!
4 - Don't Shoot Or Write Your Own Scenes Unless You Really Are A Professional Writer who's been writing for years. But then why would you need an actor's demo reel? Find a company (see TAM below) that can produce, write, shoot and edit a scene or two for you. You deserve the best so go to professionals. And NEVER use a scene that's from a REAL series- it's illegal and you're breaking the copyright law! Besides, you'll never look as good as the original. Don't shoot yourself in the foot as well! 5- Get The Advice Of An Excellent Editor Who Has Worked On Major Primetime TV series not just edited low budget indies. The style is different, the pacing, the music, the LIGHTING and the length of scenes. Better yet, find a Career Coach to advise you on choice of scenes/roles, wardrobe, image and style. The roles you will be offered are exactly the ones you display on your reel. Get advice. 6- Make It Short, Fast Paced And FUN! - Show Off Your best traits, personality and acting ability. Agents can tell in about 10 seconds if they want to work with you. They don't need to see a long boring dramatic scene. On your website you could post two or three (1-2 minute) complete "scenes" but if you have a good editor you should create a "SIZZLE reel". It has about 6-8 (5-10 second) clips that come to a total of one minute and is much like a fast paced, fun, intriguing trailer to a great movie. You can even include a clip from a commercial or music video. Agents, CD's, Film producers - EVERYONE in the Industry loves "SIZZLE reels"! So get one!

Stay tuned for more tips!!

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