How many reels do you need, really? Should you have one all-encompassing reel? Or separate ones for comedy & drama? Here are some general guidelines to help you decide.
Important note: All agents and managers will have their own preferences, so please ask yours if you’ve got ‘em! If you’re flying solo or they aren’t giving you clear direction, this one’s for you.
WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AN AGENT OR MANAGER
If you’re on the hunt for an agent or manager, this is the time to lead with your best stuff and show range. If you’ve got lots of different types of material, cut it together into one, strong reel.
Even with a collective reel like this, keep it tight! “Shorter and better” is, well… better than “long and just okay.”
WHEN YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE TAPE
The second reason you might want to have a collective version is if you only have footage from a few small projects. Maybe you’ve only had one line in a film and two lines in another. If that’s the case, go ahead and put them on one reel only.
WHEN TO START BREAKING IT UP
Once you’ve got more than 30 seconds of tape from contrasting projects, like horror and a broad comedy, you may want to split it up.
This is going to be especially helpful when you’re submitting yourself for auditions on casting sites because it allows a casting director to easily jump to the footage they need – the one that shows you’re qualified for the job they’re hiring.
Catering to the “squirrel brain.”
Have you ever clicked away from a Facebook video the second it broke to an ad? Yeah, people have zero attention span anymore.
If you’ve got that comedy first and you’re submitting to a horror film, you don’t want to run the risk of the person watching your reel clicking away because you’re “not a fit.” Split it into two clips and make it easy!
SEPARATING YOUR COMEDY & DRAMA
Once you’ve split, you’re probably safe to keep it at two separate reels for a while. This way, viewers are able to see your range within a genre and you save a little money from uploading multiple clips.
IF I DON’T HAVE A COMEDY REEL? DO I NEED ONE?
That depends! Are you funny? If no, then you don’t need a comedy reel. I want you to shift the focus of your marketing materials from “Let me cover all the bases!” to “Let me show them what they can count on me to deliver, consistently!
WHEN TO GO NUTS WITH MULTIPLE CLIPS
Once you’ve accumulated a ton of clips AND you’ve got the cash to spend, you might consider breaking your clips into further type (And maybe even creating an actor website). Something I’ve seen work rather well is to label the clips with the types of characters you’re playing in that clip. Some casting people like it and others don’t so do what feels right to you.
I suggest trying this tactic if you don’t have a ton of clout quite yet, but have a range of characters to show. Separating them into individual clips could help casting see more of the proof they need to see and less of what they don’t.
Maybe you’ve got:
- Hoity-Toity Mom
- Period Footage
- Power Attorney
If you’ve got clips with this much range – go you! By labelling your clips with this information, you can help the person viewing submissions find what they need faster and then… you know… call you in!
LEARN TO EDIT
Learning to cut your footage together in a program like iMovie is not necessarily a replacement for a professional editor. However, when you need to cut a new version together to send to an interested agent, it’s nice to be able to whip it up yourself.
There are plenty of tutorials about how to edit on Youtube. It’s highly worth a weekend of your time to learn this skill. Pinky promise!
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