Memo for Demo's
Memo for Demos
Air Date: September 21, 2023
When putting a demo of your acting together, do you know how to decide what should be on it? Demo reels are often asked for by talent reps and casting directors, but sometimes talent doesn't really know what to include. This is the podcast that takes on the question and gives you a memo for demo's.
The best clips for your demo reel are ones that 1) focus on you 2) last no more than
about 30 seconds 3) have a clear beginning, middle, and end and 4) have high
production values (especially audio).
Look for scenes which 1) show stakes and relationships, and 2) could fulfill a character
So a scene where you’re just taking a restaurant order or grocery checkout person
won’t do much for you.
Better to share with you what NOT to do:
The Don’t List
DON’T add a scene to your reel when:
You’re an extra (featured or otherwise).
It doesn’t matter if someone famous is in the scene, too. Agents, managers, casting
directors—pretty much everyone—needs to see what you can do with dialogue.
It’s just a quick cut to your face and/or you’re just delivering a line or two of—probably
Yes, it’s awesome that you booked the role , but essentially it’s only one step above
being an extra.
If you have nothing else, then yeah, use clips like these. But as soon as you have
anything with more substance swap them in. Adding quick cuts and one-liners will just
dilute your brand.
It’s, well, not very good.
This might be because of low production values—especially if the sound is bad—or
your co-stars are chewing scenery like they’re starving goats, or maybe it just wasn’t
your best day on set.
We’ve already seen the character.
If your first clips are “angry mom,” “brave soldier,” and “conniving politician” we don’t
need to see those characters again.
Very important: once you’ve demonstrated your ability to play a character, move on to
the next character as soon as possible.
The exception to this is if you’re assembling a “character” reel. E.g., a bunch of clips of
you just playing a judge or a doctor.
The clip is more of a “look” than a scene.
“Looks,” “moments,” “takes,” and “reaction shots” are useless for your reel without the
context of a scene.
It’s from a stage play, sketch show, or stand-up.
These all involve separate skills from on-camera acting and should be part of their own
reels or stand-alone clips.
Your demo reel should consist of TV and film projects because that’s what casting
directors will be using them for.
It’s a filmed audition or in-class work.
The lighting and sound are typically awful and if your reader or scene partner is terrible,
or even just mediocre, that will reflect even more poorly on you.
It’s from a while ago.
Your scenes need to reflect what you look like right now. Otherwise, the casting director
is going to be royally pissed at the 35-year-old with the dad bod who shows up in her
session when she was expected the 25-year-old hunk with the six-pack abs that was on
the demo reel.
For example: is your footage in the old, 4×3, standard definition format? If so, then it’s
too old to include.
It goes against your brand.
This is a tricky one and touches on what will be it’s own post in the future.
However, it’s vitally important for you to know how you’re perceived by others and that
your demo reel reflects those perceptions.