A demo reel is only as great as the emotions it creates in the viewer.
Creating emotion in others makes you memorable and more likely to be hired. A short, concise reel that highlights the emotional journey your characters go through will leave the casting director wanting to see more.
A Few Tips for Your Demo Reel:
Keep it short! Busy casting directors get annoyed when actors send in reels that are more than two minutes. Even if your reel is entertaining, it should never be long! Put yourself in the casting director or agent's shoes: as busy as they are, would they care to spend more than a couple minutes watching footage of someone they've never met before?
If they wish the reel were longer, that means you'll get called in.
Put your best footage first. Most casting directors won't watch more than 10 to 15 seconds of a reel if it's not good, so you want to be sure that they see your best scene right away so they stay to watch the rest.
Skip the montage! Unless your montage shows some amazing footage and makes it look like you've been in huge budget productions, there's no point to having one. And if you really must have one, don't let it be more than 5-10 seconds and put it at the end.
Add a quick slate. Make sure your name, contact info, and headshot appear at the beginning and end of your reel. It should be there just in case someone comes across your reel without your contact information.
Cut scenes short. Cut out segments of scenes that don't show you as much. You can remove portions of other actors talking, or shorten it to keep the focus on you. We recommend re-editing scenes a bit to make the scene more about you than the other actor.
Show that you can act for film. Casting directors hate seeing theatrical acting on film. If you don't know how to act for film, take some screen-acting classes before you create a demo reel. Also, ask your friends to be honest with you about your acting in the scenes you plan to use. Ask them for negative feedback, like what they didn't like about your acting technique. If they say anything negative that makes sense to you, rethink using that footage in your reel. Also, make sure whoever you hire to edit your reel tells you the truth too. Nothing is worse than a reel editor that tells you everything is great when it's not!
Edit reels for different types of work. You should use a commercial reel for commercial submissions, a funny reel for comedy submissions, and a serious reel for dramatic submissions. But remember: try to focus on one type of acting, being honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do (what your type and brand is), and then develop a reel that supports those strengths.