An acting reel tells the whole story…
Imagine this scene: you’re a casting director pouring over submissions you’ve received online, via a casting website. Some of them have an acting reel as well as a headshot, some only have headshots. There’s hundreds of submissions from actor and actresses on both coasts! How in the world are you going to get through so many?
The easiest and most effective way is to toss out all the submissions that don’t have a reel.
Yup. That’s what we do. In my position as an independent filmmaker, I am very happy to receive your submission. After all, I NEED to find the right people for the roles in my films. But, I need to see what you look like on film and I need to know you can act.
Headshots LIE. See, nobody REALLY looks like their headshots. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called people in to read for me and then I’m aggravated because they look nothing like their photograph. It’s like: “who IS this person?” It turns me against the actor right there and then.
We need to see a reel for three reasons:
1. What do you really, honestly look like now?
2. How do you sound? What’s your voice like?
3. Can you act?
A headshot cannot provide this crucial information. I’d go so as to say that a reel is FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN A HEADSHOT in the new digital age. Like, I said, casting directors work digitally now. If someone else has a video presence and you don’t, you will lose out to them, guaranteed.
The next hurdle is: “how am I going to make an acting reel?”
Well, if you have some decent footage, get it to a professional reel editor. He or she will know how to choose your best moments and edit them all together in a way that will have you looking like a star. They can also color correct it so it looks its best.
What if you don’t have any footage to include in your acting reel?
Well, don’t shoot your acting reel yourself and don’t have your best friend who says he can do it with his cellphone camera do it for you. You might as well not even bother. Why? Because you are competing against people who have actual footage from film and TV work.
You need to get the best possible professionally-shot footage that you can, for what you can afford. The good news is it only has to be two-to-three minutes.
Hire a professional to record a monologue or two—make sure it is well lit and has high quality sound and video. Bam, you’re done. You have yourself a completely legitimate reel.
Next step, go book some jobs!
Actorwerks is a NYC-based company that edits and shoots reels for actors. Contact us at: