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How to Make an Actor's Demo Reel (advice from the pros)

Updated: Nov 14

An actor's demo reel is a collection of clips from their previous acting work, showcasing their talent and skills to potential clients or casting directors. It is an essential tool for any actor looking to build their career in the entertainment industry, as it allows them to showcase their abilities and bring attention to their unique talents. Whether you're just starting out or have been working in the industry for years, creating an effective demo reel is key to advancing your career and finding success as an actor.

Creating an actor's demo reel can seem like a daunting task, especially if you're new to the industry. There are many different components to consider when putting together your reel, including the clips you choose, how they are edited together, and what kind of messaging you want to convey with your reel.

One of the most important things to consider when putting together your demo reel is the type of clips that you include. This may include scenes from previous acting roles or projects that showcase your range as an actor, as well as any short films or web series that you have been involved with. It's also important to select clips that highlight both your on-screen performance abilities and any special skills or training that might set you apart from other actors.

Once you have compiled your clips, the next step is to edit them together into a cohesive and compelling reel that effectively showcases your talents. This may involve cutting or trimming certain scenes, adding music or text to enhance the mood of your reel, and using transitions between clips to create a more seamless viewing experience for potential clients.

Finally, it's important to consider the messaging you want to convey with your demo reel. This might include highlighting any specific skills or training that you have, emphasizing a particular style of acting that you are interested in pursuing, or showcasing memorable moments from previous roles that demonstrate your range as an actor. By carefully crafting a well-thought-out demo reel, you can build your career as an actor and find success in the entertainment industry.


Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to make an actor's demo reel. Here is the advice from the pros:


1. Choose Your Best Footage

If you're an actor, your demo reel is one of your most important marketing tools. It's a way to show off your range and demonstrate your talent to casting directors and other industry professionals.

So how do you choose the best footage for your demo reel? Here are three steps to get you started:


Choose footage that shows off your range.

As mentioned, when choosing which footage to include in your reel, it's important to select scenes that showcase your range as an actor. Pick scenes that demonstrate your ability to play different types of roles and that show off your acting skills. It's also important to choose footage that is well-shot and looks professional. If you only have home video footage or footage from student films, that's okay—just make sure that the footage is of good quality.


Your demo reel should showcase the different types of roles you can play. So if you're mostly known for comedy roles, make sure to include some drama clips as well. This will show casting directors that you're a versatile actor who can handle a variety of material.

Pick scenes that have strong dialogue.

While it's important to show off your acting range, it's also essential to choose scenes with strong dialogue. After all, your demo reel is primarily a way to showcase your acting chops. So make sure the footage you include features some great lines that you can really sink your teeth into.

Choose scenes that are visually interesting.

In addition to featuring strong dialogue, the footage you include in your demo reel should also be visually interesting. This means choosing scenes that take place in locations that are visually stimulating or that have strong production values. Remember, casting directors will be watching your demo reel on a big screen, so you want to make sure the footage looks great.

By following these three steps, you can be sure to choose the best footage for your demo reel. So get out there and start auditioning for some great roles that show your versatility as an actor!



2. Get Permission to Use the Footage

You have your actor reel. You are ready to go. There is only one problem: you want to use footage from a TV show or movie in your demo reel that you don't have permission to use. Can you just grab it off the internet and slap it into your reel without getting permission? Unfortunately, the answer is no. You can't use copyrighted material in your demo reel without getting explicit permission from the copyright holder. Otherwise, you could be facing some serious legal repercussions.


So how do you get permission to use footage in your demo reel? The best bet is to reach out to the copyright holder directly and ask for permission. This can be tricky, but if you're persistent, you should be able to get the green light to use the footage you want. If you're using footage from a movie or TV show, you'll need to contact the production company that owns the rights to the footage and request permission to use it in your reel. They may charge a fee for this, so be prepared to negotiate.


Additionally, if you're using home video footage or footage from student films, you'll need to get permission from the people who appear in the footage as well as the people who shot the footage. Be sure to get this in writing so that there is no misunderstanding later on.


Once you have permission, be sure to give credit to the copyright holder in your demo reel. This will show that you respect other people's intellectual property and are willing to play by the rules


3. Edit Your Footage Together

Once you have all of your permission paperwork in order, you can start editing your reel together. Start by putting together a rough cut of your favorite scenes and then fine-tuning it until you have a two-minute reel that flows well and shows off your acting skills. Remember to include a mix of dialogue, action, and reaction shots so that casting directors can get a sense of your range as an actor.


Advanced Note: If you are unsure what what editing software to use, check out some of Adobe's products. They have a great selection of editing software: https://www.adobe.com/products/premiere.html



4. Add Music and Titles

Once your reel is edited together, you'll want to add music and titles so that viewers know who they're watching. For music, choose something that sets the mood of your reel without being too distracting—something with a slow build can be effective for intros/montages but avoid using songs with lyrics unless you have obtained permission from the copyright holder. As for titles, simply include your name at the beginning and end of the reel so viewers will know who they're looking at.



5. Get Feedback from Industry Professionals

Once your reel is finished, it's a good idea to get feedback from industry professionals before sending it out into the world. Show your reel to beneficial mentors or colleagues and ask them for their honest opinion—don't be afraid of constructive criticism! These professionals can offer valuable insights into what works well in your reel and what could be improved upon.


Conclusion: An actor's demo reel is essential for getting work in film and television—it's basically your calling card in the industry. By following these simple tips on how to make an actor's demo reel, you can put together a high-quality reel that will help you get the jobs you want.



If you are searching for a professional to handle all aspects of a demo reel for you, you can also contact us at Relentless Filmworks. We provide high-quality actor reel footage for a great price, and we are the best in the business. Check out our packages by clicking the button below!



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