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Advice

4 Reasons Why You Need a Demo Reel

4 Reasons Why You Need a Demo Reel
Photo Source: Courtesy Lance Camarillo

Lance Camarillo studied at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, and has performed in such New York productions as “Sweeney Todd,” “The Crucible,” and “You Can’t Take It With You.” In 2013, Camarillo opened up Acting Out Studios in Atlanta, Ga., a facility that offers a variety of services, including coaching, workshops, and self-taping classes, along with a new emphasis on producing custom demo reels. We spoke to Camarillo about the importance of a demo reel and how to make it work for you. We’ve also included a sample reel produced by Acting Out Studios.

What is a demo reel?
A demo reel is a compilation of your work that shows your range in two minutes or less. It’s like an audition without a script. The goal is to make it look film-like, so that an agent or casting director can see what you look like on camera—because some people look great in person and horrible on camera and vice versa.  

Why did you decide to produce demo reels and what is the process?  
We started to get a lot of calls for demo reels; they’re in pretty high demand because no one else is doing them. We write everything, we have the actors, location, crew, we’ll direct it, so all you have to do is show up with your wardrobe. We’ll take care of the editing and everything else.

What makes a good demo reel? 
If anything, it’s the professionalism of showing up and the willingness to take direction. For example: One actor whom I’d never worked with wanted to smoke in his scene, and I asked him if he knew how to use a cigarette while performing, because smoking is one of the hardest things to do as actor, due to the continuity. We’re shooting different angles, we’re shooting coverage, mid-level, close-ups—all that stuff.  So it’s your responsibility as an actor to know continuity, where you put stuff down and on what word. For him, he kept changing the cigarette, inhaling and exhaling on different lines. Sometimes the cigarette would be in the box or in his hand or in his mouth. So when I went to edit nothing matched, though luckily I was still able to save it. We do rehearse, but we don’t reshoot. So the best results come from finding your type and taking direction.

What are the benefits of a demo reel?
You have the opportunity to showcase your best performaces and let others see what you look like on film. Many actors starting out get a lot of one-liners, and you don’t want to put those on your reel because they only last two seconds. But with a demo reel you can show off your range of work with a quality production, and show an agent or casting diretor what you would look like on TV or film. Instead of doing a monologue with a screen in the back, it’s a real scene. Reels are as essential to your career as a resume or a headshot.

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