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After Thomas Edison invented motion pictures in the 1890s, silent films soon followed. The previous pastime of viewing “still art” was brought to life by moving images on film. After two decades, silent films were dead, and “talkies” as they were called, went mainstream. Unable to see the value of talkies, Harry Warner of Warner Bros made his famous quote, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk!”
Hi there and welcome back to another 800Casting Blog. This time we’re posing the question, what do Casting Directors look for in a demo reel?
First of all, what is a demo reel? Sometimes known as a “sizzle reel,” a demo reel is a 1-2 minute, short-clip compilation of an actor’s best on-camera work. Typically, it showcases an actor’s range and recency of experience in different scenes. Many Casting Directors have said that the demo reel is THE single most important marketing tool necessary for an actor looking for work in the motion picture film industry.
An actress wrote to 800Casting with the question. I don’t have a lot of experience. All I’ve only done are two student films and some on-set extra work; is it worth creating a demo reel? The answer is, possibly.
In this instance, the actress has the advantage of choosing clips of her acting in those student films. However, even without any other experience, there are several places in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, to get scenes professionally written and filmed. Before you spend a lot of money, do your homework and ask for examples of past work, focusing on lighting and sound quality.
With that said, in today’s world, there may be an easier and more cost-effective way to go; self-tape using an iPhone. Select different scenes from movies, and record them with the goal of highlighting your acting ability. Note: Casting Directors don’t have time to look at long clips. Keep your clips under thirty seconds.
As a current member at 800Casting, you’ll be able to store your scenes (clips) at no cost! That goes for clips for tv, film and voiceovers, allowing you to target Breakdowns that call for specific acting talent; i.e., comedy, drama, etc. More importantly, as a member of 800Casting, you’ll have the ability to submit your clips to Breakdowns in and out of the network.
In summary, previous 800Casting blogs have mentioned the importance of Headshots and Comp Cards as your “calling card” in the acting business. As important as they are, they still could be construed as “still art.” Recorded clips will show you in motion, thereby bringing life to your pictures and showcasing your talent as an actor. Therefore, to answer Harry Warner’s question, “Who the hell wants to see actors talk?” Casting Directors, that’s who!