PART V: Assembling Your Material
You’ve Got a Demo Reel! Now What?
- Demo reels are not Legos®. Do not add a scene unless it’s better than what you have; as good as what you have, but
newer; or as good as what you have, but it’s a role not currently on your reel.
- Don’t send your demo reel out unsolicited. It’s the same thing as walking up to a stranger, and saying, "Hi. Here’s five bucks."
Also, never call and ask for your demo reel back.
- Always be the one who asks in a CD workshop, "Do you accept demo reels?"
- Nobody can guarantee that every DVD will play on every DVD player. Compatibility issues do crop up, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
- Do not under any circumstances write anything on your DVD with a black felt marker. Nothing more screams, "amateur".
- On the other hand, don’t put together a DVD package that looks like it’s for a big-budget movie, or the hot new singing sensation.
Nothing screams, "overcompensation" like an over-fancy demo reel case.
- Personally, I use a special-purpose DVD printer to print the name and contact information of the actor onto the face of their DVDs.
I also create an insert out of the actor’s headshot to slip into the front of a slimline DVD case (the square kind with the clear plastic
front). This is not the only way to go, but I feel it nicely bridges the gap between too little and too much. If you don’t have the ability
to print directly onto a DVD, then definitely use a CD label maker, and purchase the high-quality glossy labels.
- An additional advantage to a photo insert is that it immediately shows whoever is holding your demo what you look like, and how to
spell your name. It’s likely the intern who was hired yesterday who is going to be sent into the corner pile to dig out your reel. Help
- Headshots and demo reels always end up in different piles so always include at least one contact number on the face of your DVD. The
worst thing that can happen to you is that they love you, but they don’t know how to contact you.
- Definitely show your demo reel to others, but make sure it’s to people whose opinions are worth listening to. Family, friends,
lovers, or people who don’t want to make waves are not the best choices because they generally just want to be the nice guy and say
encouraging things. Find the people with knowledge of the industry, who have some taste and discernment, and who are willing to be the
bad guy if necessary, and when they offer their opinion–good or bad–don’t say anything except, Thank you.
- Look for similar opinions. Everybody is going to have one, but it’s when three or more people have the same one that you should start to pay attention.
As an example, the feedback that I received from the last update I did on my personal acting reel had about half the people wanting the last scene to be first, and the first scene to be second. The other half wanted it just the way it was. I also had one client–the owner of a successful commercial production company–who hated my third scene, hated the angles, and the colors, and the director’s choices, and wanted it cut. However, a longtime director with dozens of IMDb credits loved the third scene, loved the angles, loved the colors, and loved the director’s choices. Had a majority of the feedback–say 70 or 80 percent–been one way or the other, I would have changed my reel accordingly, but as opinion was about evenly split, I kept it the way it was.
And that’s about it for this series. It’s an awful lot of information, I know, but if you take it step by step, you should be able to put together a first-rate demo reel that shows you off as a professional worth hiring. Good luck.