QUESTIONS FROM ACTORS AND REPLIES FROM WAG THAT REEL FOUNDER JEREMY HANDELMAN.
Where should I post my reel?
There are lots of choices when it comes to which websites to consider to display your demo reel. Let’s start with the basics. It’s usually best to have your reel hosted on a standard video site such as Vimeo or YouTube. Not only do they have the infrastructure to host and stream video, but they’ve also gotten better at providing different formats of the reel needed so that they properly display on different devices (phones, tablets, computers).
Once the reel is on Vimeo (or YouTube), it can easily be displayed on many other websites without actually having to upload it to those other sites. This is known as “embedding”. If you watch the videos on the Wag That Reel website, they all are actually being hosted on Vimeo (or YouTube) but they appear seamlessly on Wag That Reel. The same can be done for your own website. Some websites are set up so that you just provide the URL from Vimeo or YouTube. Other sites require the embedding code, which is a string of HTML code. For any reels that we do at Wag That Reel, we can always provide you with the embedding code.
But some sites want the actual video file, foremost among them being BreakdownServices/ActorsAccess. They also do not allow any contact info to appear on the reel, since they want all contact to occur through their system. (For our clients, the initial cost of creating a reel includes a separate version for ActorsAccess at no additional charge, which we send straight to them. The actor is still responsible for the ActorsAccess fee for hosting video.)
Of course, there are many other casting and actor websites. Some of my clients are on all of them. Some are only on ActorsAccess. Most are on at least a few. Some of these sites also require an actual video file with special formatting, which we can provide for a very small fee. Here is a list of some of the sites:
ActorsAccess – requires video file without contact info
Backstage – link via URL
Casting Networks – requires video file with special format
iActor (for SAG-AFTRA members) – link via URL
IMDBPro – requires video file (same format as Vimeo or YouTube usually is OK)
NYCastings – requires video file with special format
One on One – uses embedding code
Stage 32 – link or video file
Am I better off having a reel or should I post separate clips?
Casting Directors, Agents and Managers all have differing preferences on this question so there is no single “correct” answer. But having a well-produced reel is indicative of your seriousness and professionalism about your career. It’s part of your “packet” along with your resumé and headshot, and it gives you the opportunity to shape how you are going to be perceived. That said, I do have clients who have both a reel and individual clips posted to cover them either way. If you post clips, each one should be specific to a genre. Don’t expect a Casting Director to sift through a bunch of separate clips to find what they’re looking for. You have to be able to point them to what they need to see. My suggestion is that you first discuss this with your agent and/or manager. Of course, if you don’t have an agent or manager, a good reel could help you attract one!
Should I identify each segment within my reel so that people watching it know what film, TV show, commercial or industrial they are watching?
Casting Directors and Agents seem to have differing opinions on this subject. My own view is to add titles only if it’s going to enhance your credibility. If a clip shows you alongside a recognizable star in footage of strong video quality, or in what is an easily identifiable film, TV series or commercial, then adding a title is superfluous and might even take attention away from watching YOU in that clip. On the other hand, if you’re in a film or TV episode that is an impressive credit (either due to the film or the director) but most people wouldn’t recognize the film from the clip being used, then adding that text is a good idea. Of course, once you decide to add text to one clip, then you should do that for all the clips in your reel.
Is it a bad idea to use a clip in my demo reel that is poor video quality even though my performance is strong?
That’s hard to answer without seeing the clip in question and the rest of the footage that you are considering for your reel. Life can sometimes be a series of tradeoffs and so can your reel. If the video quality is so poor that the clip comes across as a very amateur production, then you may want to leave it out. But if you have other clips that establish your “cred” in recognizable films or TV series, then you may be able to keep this questionable clip in the reel if it shows off some aspect of your acting that is not in the other clips. But one caveat to all this: avoid using a clip if the audio quality is poor.
One of my clips includes a brief shot of me in a scene with a major star. I don’t speak in that scene but want to include it in my reel. Do you agree that I should include it and, if so, where in the reel should it go?
Assuming that the rest of your clips don’t include you speaking in a scene with some other major star, then yes, you certainly should include this brief scene in your acting demo reel. There is no absolute answer as to where it should appear. That really depends on what else is in your reel. If you’re in other recognizable films or television series (even if there is no “star” in these other scenes), then the clip in question might go after these others. However, if the clip with the star is your only “big” credit, then you should consider starting the reel with that. While I normally want to emphasize your performance, these kind of clips do provide some “cred” for a casting director and I can often find ways to maximize that brief exposure in your reel.
My manager suggested that my actor demo reel begin with my headshot and contact information. I see that most of the reels you edit go straight to a video clip. How come?
The goal is to get the viewer to the action as quickly as possible. Casting directors and others involved in the casting process don’t have a lot of free time. When they’re going through a lot of reels they want to cut to the chase. Remember that the person looking at the reel has probably already seen your headshot and name on the website before they clicked to see the video. And they’re not about to write down contact info until after they’ve seen the reel, which is why I generally prefer to have that information at the end of the reel, not the beginning.