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An actors reel - advice

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Before I started producing, I was primarily an actor and boy oh boy, I wish I had a relationship with a producer I would have felt comfortable getting advice from when it came to my reel. I would like to go back in time and give myself some advice if I could... but since my friend Terry says time travel will not be possible in my lifetime, I will do the next best thing and share my advice to you.

Let's get right to it. Reels should always be as short as possible. What do I mean by that? Well, I have heard some say "Keep your reel to 1 minute." 1 minute is a great idea... but I have seen some really bad 1 min reels. If you do not have 1 minute of great content, do not have a 1 minute reel.

Bad audio, or a terrible scene partner is really difficult to watch and will ultimately distract from you. But I see those kinds of clips on most newcomers reels. Is that all you have? Well, before putting those clips on your reel, select a clip from a self tape audition instead. A good self tape is really easy to make nowadays. I do self tapes with either my Panasonic Gh4 or simply my Galaxy s8 (if I am in a hurry) and a couple of ring lights I bought on amazon. If you do not have a good place to self tape at home, there are lots of studios around LA that specialize in quick self tapes. You go in, do your scene and they send you the file. Perfect. Only using a self tape may not feel right when you have a clip of yourself in a real project... but trust me, if I watch 2 reels and one is just 15 seconds of someone being great in a self tape and the other is a "just ok" indie film with an odd scene partner... you better know that I am calling in the self tape reel person.

For those of you who like me (a few recognizable credits and loads of indie stuff and commercials) it is usually best to start with something with a celebrity in it even if it is short. That gives you some instant credibility. If you don't have that, just put your best looking and best acted stuff first. It does not matter if it is comedy or drama. It also does not matter if you mix comedy and drama. Just resist the temptation to add length to your clips so that we understand the entire scene. We just need to see you.

Like anything... do your research. Watch reels and take notes. If you have an agent, ask to go into their office so you can watch the reels of their busiest clients. You can start with this one. The amazing Casey Strand!

If you have 5 glorious minutes of you giving amazing performances on projects that look and sound fantastic, this advice is not for you. Clearly, you do not need it! Congratulations. Lot's of folks are jealous of you.

If you want me to check out your reel and give you feedback... just shoot me an e-mail via my contact page.


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