How to Make A Demo Reel or a Showreel for an Actor or Artist
What Is A Demo Reel or Showreel?
A Demonstration Reel, also known as a Demo or Showreel, is a compilation of an artist's best work showing their specific skills and talents — a visual portfolio and resume. For a musician, a music demo reel, or also known as a demo tape or CD, that accomplishes the same thing but only through the ears. However, musicians who perform, such as singers and bands, a visual Demo Reel is better than a music tape or cd as it showcases your look and performance, not just your sound.
Acting Reels are the most common form of a Demo Reel or Show Reel, but Directors, Special Effects Artists, Editors, Animators, and others also have a demo reel.
Do I (you) need a Demo Reel?
No one needs a demo reel, but would a demo reel be a useful tool in helping your career by showcasing your work to a record producer or music job that you would not be able to do otherwise?
Yes, it would.
Okay, so you could USE a music demo reel, but WAIT!
You should also consider the body of work you have, or lack thereof, in this NEED of a demo reel. Do you have enough GOOD material to put onto a demo reel?
Fact and Fiction about Showreels
As a Film Production Company, we know showreels. Many actors we do showreels for are working more due to our Showreel Philosophy.
Your reel should be between one-and-a-half and three minutes.
That is a good rule of thumb and a good starting point. But if it is compelling enough for someone to continue listening to or watching, then the length is a moot point. But is it strong and compelling enough? It is best starting off by keeping it short. Let them want more.
Best advise is to HIT THEM WITH YOUR BEST WORK — your best performance — no matter what the length is. It may not be the one you had a scene with Brad Pitt, or were in that NAMED film. Impress them with your talent not someone else's. Casting Directors, good one's, do not hire you because of who you worked with, they hire you because of YOUR talents.
A demo reel is a commercial to convince the casting director that you, the featured product, are the one they should hire for the job. It needs to be to the point. Everyone gets one chance to make a first impression, make it the best chance it can be.
What To Include On A Showreel · Demo Reel
- Two to five 30 second or less clips from real productions in which you are clearly identified as the actor and have dialog and show your acting skill — never confuse the viewer as to they should be watching.
- Keep it under 5 minutes — 3 is better.
- Add the title of the production.
- Give credit to the production company.
- Put contact info for production company or director.
- If possible a bio page with a head shot, your name, your contact info, and bio.
What NOT To Put On A Showreel · Demo Reel
- Background / Extra work - Casting Directors want to see if you can act and speak on camera with it in your face, not how you stand.
- Fake clips, such as, ones from acting classes — leave your acting class sketches where they belong, in the practice folder, not your Reel.
- Produced Scenes
There are places that offer the actor a way to get media for their reel by creating FAKE productions, not reel ones called "Produced Scenes." These produced scenes are short scenes written for you and sometimes you work with other actors. As a film production company, we look up the title of the movie to verify the status of the project and your acting credentials. If no title given, there is no way to verify the validity of your work and you may not get the role.
There is not a problem doing produced scenes as it does give you some very little acting experience. What the "produced scenes" lack is the intensity, stress, and excitement of being on a real set in a real production that the producers and director are hoping to take somewhere and be projected onto theater screens for hundreds to thousands, if not millions of people. Your acting in a little fake "produced scene" is never going to reach the level it would have if on a real production; therefore, like in golf, taking a mulligan, YOU ARE JUST CHEATING YOURSELF!
— NEVER add Produced Scenes to a showreel!
Keep It Specific to the Job your are applying for
When applying for a position, ensure that your demo reel is targeted specifically to an individual skill or job function, such as Director, Editor, Director of Photography, Animator, Gaffer. This may mean that you will have to create multiple showreels, but you will benefit in appearing more focused.
A Collage or Sample Showreel style
Some people create a rapid fire collage type of showreel that shows quick shots cut to music, but unless you had any hand in creating the music: writing, performing, or engineering, these types of showreels are more to show off the editor that created your showreel and the unauthorized use of copyrighted music is illegal, and it will likely turn off potential employers.
The only demo reel style that works for actors shows short samples of clips cut together in some context. Make sure the clips are digestible and understood by the viewer. Let them take in what is happening in the scene.
I do not have any "Real Production Experience" or Clips?
If you have no clips due to no experience on real productions, you have no need for a showreel/demo reel. Work on as many Student or Indie productions as you can to get real experience and material working on your craft honing your skills — most of them are volunteer without pay, but at least they are REAL Productions, not fake.
Dishonesty may not only cost you one job, but in small production markets (where word travels fast) it could mean the end of a career. Be smart! Also, the cost of sending demo reels to people, unless it is a url to a website, can take its toll on your bank account. Only send a demo reel when you have enough strong material of your own.
Label and Identify Yourself and the Material
Include your name and contact information at the start and end of your reel. Your reel is worthless if the viewer does not have a way to contact you.
And by all means, LABEL everything by giving credit where it is due — your previous employers, clients, and collaborators will appreciate it more and allow you to keep using certain material without issues.
Highlight Impressive Clients
I AM NOT A NAME DROPPER! And I despise those that are. Do not put that you were in a film with Brad Pitt unless you had dialog with him (NO ONE CARES HOW CLOSE YOU STOOD NEXT TO HIM AS A BACKGROUND ACTOR). Do not put you were in this NAMED FILM unless you had dialog and were on screen for more than 10 seconds.
HOWEVER! If you are an editor, animator, camera operator, or such that has worked on some projects for some impressive clients, use it to your advantage! Major corporations, popular films, or network television programs are impressive and can be notated in your reel.
Put It Online and and Keep It Updated
Your showreel(s) should be online and easily accessible on a site such as Vimeo who specializes in film and keeps the video in high quality unlike YouTube. You can easily send them a link when they are hiring in a hurry. Also, by putting your reel on Vimeo you can quickly swap it out when you need to make an update to your showreel without the url (link) having to change, again, unlike Youtube.
And speaking of updating, you should be modifying your showreel every three to six months and adding current material and removing the weaker — your showreel needs to be fresh, current, and as strong as it can be. If it is more than 6 months without any new work, your need for a showreel or demo reel becomes more important, that is if you still dream about doing what you started out dreaming about. If not, then you do not need to waste your time, money, and energy on showreels or demo reels.
Aria Pictures creates professional Showreels & Demo Reels for Artists, such as, Actors, Musicians, Directors, Animators, Bands, and more.
Demo Reels for Aria Pictures’ Actors
Once the production has been projected at the premiere and sent off to their respective places, Aria Pictures will export a 1 to 1.5 minute High Quality mastered clip of each actor in their best scene (not just acting, but one where they are visible the majority of the time and not mashed together from all the scenes they were in in the movie) with credits.
☆ Basic Demo Reel $300
Up to 3 minutes
Any amount DIGITAL of sources
Titles, Labels, Info section
YOU GET: DVD and Digital File for uploading to any video service.