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The Do's and Don'ts of creating a demo reel

A demo reel is one of the most important things that you need as an actor to help you market yourself effectively. It is therefore inevitable to have the best demo reel if you wish to get your prospective employers to consider hiring you. This is your commercial, and you definitely need it to represent you appropriately, sell your skills and land you your first or even your dream job. You want to be noticed and the only way to do this is to know the right way to create your demo reel.
Here are a few dos and don’ts that will help you create the best demo reel

The Dos
  • Only include the best of your work
This sounds pretty obvious but should definitely not be overlooked. I am sure by now you know that your weakest point determines your strength, in the same way, your demo reel will be just as strong as the worst piece you have ever done. Whenever you create more pieces, you should constantly edit your demo reel and re-evaluate what work you would currently consider to be your strongest. Constantly replace the ‘weak’ pieces with stronger ones. Consider having a demo reel that has few quality pieces than one with many mediocre pieces.
  • Mark the beginning and the ending of your demo reel with the strongest pieces
There is a high probability that your demo reel won’t be viewed all through. To be on the safe side, start off with your best work and end with something that will make the viewer remember you.
  • It should be geared towards the job of your dreams
If you are sure of the specific job title you would like to be hired for, you should take time to do pieces that are related to that. If you generalize by doing many reels with unrelated areas of focus, then you may not be placed where you would like to be.
  • Know and focus on your strengths
Let your demo reel reflect what you are good at. It is not necessary to show that you are capable of doing everything.
  • The simpler and shorter, the better
If your demo reel goes beyond two minutes then you need to edit and get rid of some of your weaker pieces and leave only your very best.
  • Include a cover letter
Most people overlook the cover letter but it largely determines whether or not your demo reel will be watched. It should be very specific to the particular position you are interested in. Highlight your experiences, skills and your strongest technical skills.
  • It should be easy to play
Test it on as many systems as possible and ensure that one does not need to install special codes or software to play your demo reel. If you are sending it to a specific studio, check their site and convert your demo reel to their preferred form.

The Don’ts
  • If you do not have approval for some work, don’t include it
You may have done some work under some ‘not-for-public’ agreement, strictly do not include it. If you would like to show that you are capable of doing such a project, then you should recreate it in a personal project.
  • If you do not love doing certain work, don’t include it
Your demo reel determines what work you will be hired to do. If you end up being hired to do what you do not like, you are likely to perform poorly.
  • Do not insist on music
If adding your favorite music to the reel does not add value to it, then it is better off without it. It is risky to add music, because it may make some viewers dislike the whole reel.
  • Don’t include work that you haven’t done
Honesty is valued in every field. A demo reel is supposed to tell your employer that you are capable of doing the work in it. If you end up being employed and perform way below the expectations, as dictated by your demo reel, then you will be labeled dishonest.
  • Don’t waste so much time on fancy packaging
Your focus should be on the content rather than the packaging; you will be hired 

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Importance of Continuing to Take Acting Classes- To be Easily Noticed By Casting Agents/Directors

Acting classes are very important for any aspiring actor. By now you should know that the greatest challenge in the field of acting is that there are so many people from all over the world who want to become actors. This is why you need to find an effective way that will give you the edge when it comes to talent and experience and the truth is, there is no better way than taking acting classes. Whether a new or already established actor, acting classes are a sure way of getting the experience and confidence that you will need to make it big in your career.

As an actor, you will face extraordinary competition; there is no specifically established path towards becoming a great actor. Some have made it because of their hard work that led to them being discovered as talented actors, while others are in it because they were lucky to have been strategically placed in the right place at the right time. This is clearly a matter of choosing what works for you and waiting for your right time. However, if you really intend to be a successful actor early enough, experience and acting lessons are the fastest way to getting there.

One great thing about taking classes is that you get to learn from those with the experience.so if you faithfully take the lessons and practice what you are taught in class, you are much more likely to be noticed by casting directors than someone else who hasn’t taken classes. It clearly gives you an edge over others and sets you apart from the rest of the competitors.

I am sure we are in agreement that the best way for you to home your acting talent and skills is taking acting classes. It is true that taking classes adds significantly on the financial input towards your career, but at the end of the day you will agree that it is totally worth it. The fact that you took classes will be a great way for the directors and agents to know that you are determined to making a great actor; you put in money, time and effort in working on your skills.

Now, most actors will give up on the acting classes as soon as they land their first job. This should not be the case; the classes are a combination of practical skills development, acting games and other vital acting exercises and activities like firearm training that you will need throughout your career. You need to remember that the acting field is dynamic and you most definitely will not keep your current job for long and therefore, you will still need to take the classes to the end in order to be noticed as a great actor.

Of course there is the usual very debatable statement that some people are naturally great actors. The truth is that it is a lot easier for those who have taken classes to find acting jobs and roles. If you look into the backgrounds of the greatest and the worldwide best-known actors, you will realize that they one way or another got some acting lessons and for most of them, the classes were very expensive and extensive too. So if you want to be anything like them, you have to continue taking acting classes.

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                                Picking the Right Agent

Picking an agent is more or less like college selection. It is one decision that needs to be made carefully because it will greatly determine the future of your acting career. Sadly, most actors blindly rush into making this decision. There are thousands of well-established talent agencies and narrowing down your choices can be very confusing. Those who have made it in the acting industry will tell you that finding the right agency that perfectly fits what you need is a daunting task.

Well-established agencies versus ‘boutique agencies’

I believe the biggest mistake that most start up actors make is trying to get signed with the famous, well-established agencies. Sure enough, if you get lucky and are offered a place, this could really work out well for you. However, there are advantages of being signed by the smaller agencies. You are most likely to be very important to them and they will work around the clock to secure a lot of work for you. The bottom line is that you seek to create business relationship with your agency. At this point, the best thing that could happen to you is you becoming a working actor, so the best agency for you is one that helps you find work, regardless of its location, the length of time it has been around or its size.

Having said that, these questions should help you pick an agent or agency that best meets your needs;

  • What are the projects and talents that the agency handles effectively?

Find out what the agency in known for; what is their specialty and do your needs fit in? Different agencies specialize in different areas. You either want to go commercial or for theatrics, it is true that some agencies may be representing both, but there are agencies that are better than others at one or the other.

  • How does your agent see you and your casting? Is that how you see yourself?

There are certain types of roles that you believe are the right ones for you; you have practiced them and you feel comfortable with them. If the agent does not seem to pay attention to this, then feel free to keep looking for the right agent. There are many agencies to choose from.

  • At what level are you in your career? Is the Agency at that level?

With time, you will notice that you have built your career to a certain point and you need to move to the next level. If your current agency is not able to find you audition for the next level, then you need to change to another- upgrade.

Now, when is the right time for you to start looking for a new agent?

I want to presume that the fact that you are currently working with an agent means that you accessed them and chose them. It therefore, means that they saw your talent and your casting as you wanted them to. However, there comes a time when you feel like you no longer work well with them. Here are some genuine reasons for you to start looking for a new agent:

  • When you are not being called for auditions despite having done everything that your agent requires you to. If you have put in all your efforts in getting the perfect demo reel and headshot and attended classes as your agent recommended and you still are not getting auditions, it is high time you left and looked for another agent.
  • If others in your age-group are getting out. You may not be in the agency’s age-group sweet spot and therefore, not being pushed forward for auditions. If you realize that many actors in the age group within which you fall are leaving, you too should leave.

 

The Acting Academy Voice


The Perfect Headshot


Important things you need to know in order to have the perfect headshot


The headshot. This is the most important tool that any serious actor needs in order to effectively market themselves. It is therefore, crucial to do it the right way-you need the casting director to be impressed and not scared by your headshot. Believe it or not, it is a powerful representation of you and so if it looks bad, then your prospective employer will believe that you look bad too; you will be hired based on this 8x10 photo of your face. This is to emphasize to you the need to distinguish this from your Facebook or Instagram photos. It will eventually earn you a lot of jobs and money if you do it the right way.


Here is a list of 5 most basic and very important things you need to know in order to have the perfect headshot:


  • Go professional

For the perfect headshot, you should go to a trained professional who understands lighting and has a good reputation. It is true that professional headshots cost a lot but at the end of the day it is worth it. If you take it as an investment in your career, it is the second most essential investment after your acting training.

  • Your headshot should look like you

Headshots are not about who you want to be, they are about who you are. It is a representation of you on your best day; ensure that it accurately represents the current you. You can imagine how unhappy the casting director will be if you showed up looking very different or way older. The secret here is to choose your personality over all the glamour.

  • Focus on your eyes

Ensure that your eyes are captured in a way that makes them draw the attention of the viewer. Your eyes should, on their own, be able to establish some kind of connection that speaks volumes. So make sure they are well focused, energized and alive.

  • Pay attention to your angles

Headshots are close up shots and so, angles will definitely affect the feel and outcome of the shot. Avoid cheesy angles because they make you appear dishonest and nobody wants to work with such a person.

  • Watch the amount of make-up you use

Retouching takes care of a lot of things .It is not necessary to go crazy with tons of makeup. You definitely do not want to look fake or like you tried really hard. Just be you; your face and hair should be exactly as they would look on any audition.


If you asked me, all these tips narrow down to honesty and professionalism. Be yourself and express confidence in who you are. Do not hesitate to invest in quality headshots; they are your ticket to a great acting career.