Getting Footage for Your Reel From a Director

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Photo Source: Photo by Noom Peerapong on Unsplash

Dear Director,

Congratulations on wrapping your project! It must feel nice to have it finally done. I know you put a lot of time and energy into it. Here’s the’s been six months and I need the footage. I didn’t hear back the other two times I reached out so I’m just circling back again.

Remember me? The actor in the project? You contacted me every day for two weeks about rehearsals, script, wardrobe, etc.? Yeah, it’s been hard to reach you since we wrapped. I know that your four-minute-long, Coppola-inspired mafioso movie with the sci-fi twist is the greatest thing since your last four-minute-long, Coppola-inspired mafioso movie with the sci-fi twist. I know you’re proud of it. I am too, actually.

I know you want to submit your project to festivals, have that exciting world premiere, and earn those honorable mention graphics for the poster—but I really need the footage.

See, the footage becomes a part of my reel. I use my reel as a tool to earn other projects. If I can’t show myself progressing as an actor, it becomes harder to get other projects. By not sending me that footage, you’re holding me back from other opportunities. I know that’s not your intention, but that’s the effect.

READ: Beyond the Camera: How 14 Famous Directors Worked With Actors

Perhaps it’s this myth that releasing footage jeopardizes its acceptance to festivals? For the record, you only jeopardize eligibility when your film is publically available. Like, the complete thing, or a really substantial portion of it. That makes sense. Why would anyone attend a festival if they can just watch the films online? But there’s a huge difference between your complete film being publically available and a 30-second out-of-context clip on my reel.

Check out the Sundance Film Festival 2019 submission guidelines on their website. It says, “Posting minimal footage or scenes from your project does not affect its eligibility for any submission category. It is also acceptable for cast and crew to use scenes from your project for the purposes of a public or private exhibition reel.”

It doesn’t get any clearer.

And the Sundance sentiment is similar across the festival circuit. Is there an exception? Maybe. But any festival that would hinder you from supporting your actors isn’t a festival you want to be associated with. Support your actors. They will be there for you long after the festival circuit ends.

So let’s compromise. I can understand if you don’t want to release the entire project, but can you send me something? Perhaps a good scene or two that shows off my acting?

I would really appreciate it.

That Actor Who Worked With You For Months

Jesse Regis is a New York City-based actor and writer. His website is You can find him on Instagram @JRPrimetime and reach him directly at

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Jesse Regis
Jesse Regis is a New York City-based actor and writer. His website is You can find him on Instagram @JRPrimetime, and reach him directly at
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