What makes a good acting reel? Examples, monologue and demos

What clips belong in your demo reel? Here are some tips for aspiring actors!

Of course, quality over quantity is the theme of today. You may be inclined to fill your reel with as many clips as possible to show that you have experience, but this will work against you.

You don’t want your reel to be too long. Don’t dilute the best image of yourself with average clips. Use your best performances to show the strongest image of yourself as possible. On top of that, casting directors, like everyone in the film industry, are juggling a lot. They don’t have time to watch a five minute video looking for the clips they really want to see. Around one minute is best with three or four clips.

They want to see YOU. Think of your reel as an elevator pitch.

You can have a reel with more than one genre, but it’s more about the characters you portray. Casting directors want to see you confidently show off your range because directors want to work with versatile actors. This means, again, it’s about YOU much more than the genre of the shoots you were on. You could have played a lawyer in a drama, but that same kind character could be used in a comedic show as a character that’s overly serious in an offbeat environment.

The relationships you make while working in production will help you. Don’t throw your reel in front of someone you just met, but once you make a relationship with an actor, you can ask to see their reel and if they’ll look at yours. You could make a relationship with a casting director as well, the type of person who looks at reels and decides who gets to audition. Remember: they are extremely busy, but if you have a good enough relationship with them and you know they have some time, that’s another resource for you to get feedback on your reel and the clips in it.

The upshot: less is more. It’s better to have a concise, focused reel with only the best clips of you than it is to have a huge, bloated one with everything you’ve ever been on.

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