Have you ever seen an actor in a movie or TV show and thought to yourself: “I could do a great job playing that part!” Unfortunately, for one reason or another, you haven’t been able to get yourself in front of the right agent or casting director. An effective way to get in the door is an acting demo reel with a few strong performances.
It used to be that the standard approach was for an actor to start working on student films, short films, and as many independent productions as he or she could until there was enough material to put together an actor’s showreel. The problem with this particular approach is that it can take years to gather enough material for an awesome acting demo reel. It took me about 6 years before I had something I was proud of. Things are different today.
Actors no longer have to sit around and wait for the perfect role to come along. More and more performers are choosing to create their own content, and that applies to acting performance reels as well.
Back in early March of this year, I was contacted by an Italian actor through LinkedIn. He was planning to relocate to Hollywood in May and asked if I could custom-make an acting demo reel so he could showcase his acting talents in English. The first thing I told him was to start looking at Hollywood movies and television series to pick the roles and scenes he’d like to be playing. Once I had an idea of what he had in mind, I put together a budget for him and a timeframe to get it done. I estimated that the whole process would take me about a month to complete.
By the time he arrived in Los Angeles, I had put together the logline for half a dozen original scenes similar to what he had shown interest in so he could have a few options to choose from. We settled on shooting four scenes and I got to work on the screenplay. By the end of the first week in June, I had the ten-page screenplay ready with two solo scenes and two scenes with one other actor in it.
We cast the other roles and spent the next week rehearsing and prepping for the shoot. We opted to shoot one scene per day giving the client time to change his looks and transition between characters. We wrapped shooting on the 13 of June.
I would have liked to have more time for post-production, but the client had a sense of urgency so we delivered the finished product on June 28.
Below is a link to a video of the scenes as they were originally edited before I created a shorter version for the client with a focus on his performance.
I understand not everyone has the means to hire a director, a makeup artist and a small crew to produce an acting demo reel, but in case you do, it can certainly increase the chances of being noticed by other industry professionals.