Last week we discussed the importance of having a high quality reel with professional level edits. The selections in your reel need to tell casting directors that you know how to work at a professional level with professional people. But aside from looking technically proficient, what do the clips in your reel need to do? What makes one scene better than another in regards to your reel? How do you choose which scenes to pull from to best represent you?
There are two main considerations to make when building your demo reel:
1.) Does the scene showcase your talent?
In order to achieve this the scenes in your reel need to be compelling. Regardless of how great you look, a scene that is written or directed in a boring or uninteresting way will rarely ever allow for a performance that feels more then “okay.” And it’s your performance that truly matters. This means that the scenes in your reel need to have conflict, dynamics, and originality. The scenes that you pull sections from must have a clear beginning, middle and end in which a quick catalyst sets up a confrontation that brings about some form of resolution. In this way those clips will stand alone because they came from an authentic whole in which you were grounded, connected, in action, and deeply rooted in character. It’s very important that the clips you show capture the viewer’s interest because they will unconsciously associate that interest, or lack there of, with your performance. Accordingly, every word and action in the scene must move the narrative forward. When things are moving forward we are interested, when they are still we usually aren’t.
2.) Are the selections or clips dynamic?
It’s best to stay away from scenes that are expositional because they mostly set up future action and are as a result very stagnant in nature. The clips you should use should start right before the catalyst of the action. Even the ending of the scene should move the story forward and leave the viewer wanting more. Scenes should feel part of a larger whole. Furthermore, it’s essential for the scenes in your reel to exhibit a clear sense of style and tone because that helps casting directors to visualize your type. Any yes, like it or not casting directors do “type” you. It also enhances their experience of the scene and subsequently their experience of your performance because it allows for your natural essence to shine through. Each scene you choose should have variations in energy and intensity so that they are never monotone or predictable. A good editor will make sure that your performance and the scene clips themselves have those sorts of dynamics in both your performance and the narrative action.
Ultimately the scenes required for a good reel need a palpable sense of craft and artistry that can only be obtained by collaborating with the right filmmakers and storytellers. Perhaps the projects you’ve done thus far have fallen short of these elements. Or you feel you don’t yet have material that gives you a chance to show your acting chops. At Award Winning Reels, we specialize in writing, filming and producing the types of scenes that make an actor’s reel stand out. If you feel like the scenes in your reel aren’t at the level you’d like, give us a call and we will help you edit your footage, or produce a brand new scene that will stand out from the crowd and propel your career forward. You work hard to be exceptional, make sure your reel represents that.
Enjoy some examples of scenes for demo reels created by Award Winning Reels Here.