Thursday, September 9, 2010

Actor Demo Reels Part 2

Director of Photography Ron Gonzalez and
Director Daniel Millican setup for an
actor demo reel shoot.
I was talking with a local talent agent.  She was saying that many of the local actors just don't have quality moments for their demo reels.  And in this age of technology, more and more casting people and directors are using demos to decide whether to audition someone.  We also discussed how hard it is sometimes to get scenes from production companies.  An actor does a movie and forever can't get a copy to put pieces into a reel.

So we talked some more and I realized what she was saying was very accurate-- as a director, I'm looking at demos.  And if in the one minute of the demo, it's mostly background/extra type scenes, it doesn't really do the actor any good-- if anything, it hurts.

This led to a discussion about providing a service to actors-- shooting short little "moments" that can be easily placed into a demo reel.  At first I thought about pulling from scripts I've already written, then I decided it'd be better to write something specific for each actor.

The next trick was figuring out how to price it.  It is extremely important that these look rich and high in production value.  I'm going to need to pay a crew.  So I figured a budget for the shoot and divided it out, coming to a figure of $350 per actor, with four actors minimum to make it work.  This is less than some headshots.  What the actor walks away with is a high def, cinematic quality quicktime for web and a higher resolution quicktime for the editor making the reel.

The response has been pretty good.  I've done two sessions and about to do a third (had several that couldn't make it to the last one).  We're shooting on Tuesday, Sept 14.  I still have room for one or two more as of the writing of this blog.  Registration/Info/Samples at .

I need to know pretty quick because I write original material for each actor and you also need to have time to prepare and memorize your lines.

Tips for Actor Demo Reels:
  • No longer than 1 minute
  • Have 4 or 5 different clips
  • Keep it mostly on you, not other actors in the scene
  • Better to show big fish/small pond, than little fish/big pond.  In other words, I would rather want to see a juicy scene from a micro budget movie than you as a featured extra in a Hollywood film.
  • Negotiate getting a copy of the movie when you sign up for the role

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