How to make an acting reel

Acting Reel Basics and tips

Are you asking the question of what to put on an acting reel. If so the following suggestions and guidelines may help you.

Firstly, your concern should be about quality and not quantity. If you believe that you do not have any material that even falls into the “quality” part then wait to make a demo reel. You are better off not having one at all rather than having a reel of mediocre work. If you have to ask yourself if something is good enough to go on your reel, then it most likely isn’t. Be extra hard on yourself when picking your work. If in doubt, ask a friend you trust or someone else who is in the business for their opinions.

Once you have figured out what you want on your reel, sort it by what is best. Put your best work at the beginning. Putting your best at the end is risking that casting directors will watch long enough to see it. Don’t take that chance, make sure they see your best first.

Keep the length fairly short. You do not want to bore anyone. To keep it as short as possible make sure you cut out everything that is unnecessary such as effects, transitions, graphics, still frames, etc. Keep in mind they are looking to see your acting skills, not your knowledge of digital effects or Adobe products. The acting demo reel is a commercial for you and should be kept to the length of a TV commercial. For actors with lots of work 3 to 4 minutes should be good. For beginning actors with minimal work 40 seconds to 2 minutes should suffice. If you really have a lot of work you want to show off, cut it down as tight as possible and never go over 5 to 6 minutes.

Keep the pace fast. You do not want any pauses so skip the intro and a long ending sequence is also unneeded.

Try to only use professional material for your reel. If you are lacking professional material and really need a reel, it may be OK to shoot some scenes however, you must make sure they are top notch.

Make sure that all the material features you. Nobody wants to watch 20 seconds of someone else talking before you come into the scene.

Keep the right flow – Try to only use the same kind of footage. Do not mix in theatrical performances with TV on the same reel. If you do different types of acting such as theater and Television, you may want to create a separate reel for each.

Keep it polished. Even though most can easily create a low end video at home on a computer, a pro can do it better. You do not want it to look “home made”.

Keep it online – These days it is much faster and easier to send someone a link to your video page rather than sending a DVD out in the mail. Keeping it online also makes it easy to share for anyone watching it.

3 thoughts on “How to make an acting reel

  1. Carlos

    Thanks. .needed that information. ..almost made a dumb move

  2. Hannah

    Hi, I’m a 13 year old girl from Missouri and I’ve never been in a TV show or anything like that, but I have been in plays and I love acting. Is there anyways I could video tape myself doing a short monologue from a script and using that for my Demo Reel?


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