What Is Demo Reel? Know How To Make A Demo Reel!

A demo reel is a short video that is showcased to employers while searching for an actor, cinematographer, or editor. It is most commonly used in the media industry.

What is a Demo Reel?

A demo reel, also known as a video reel, sizzle reel, or showreel is a collection of short clips that features the abilities of the creator in a given sphere of the employers. In simple terms, a demo reel is a portfolio in video form. 

Whether you are an actor, animator, editor, or cinematographer, you will need a reel of your past work experience or your best project to apply for new jobs.

You might have heard the term “demo reel” quite often in the film industry because it plays a vital role in the media industry.

How to make a demo reel?

Making a demo reel can be a little confusing for beginners. After all, a lot of hard work is involved here. So below, we have shared the tips to make a demo reel:

1. Keep it Short

Many people often ask how long should a demo reel be. A reel can be up to 3 minutes long. But not all employers watch the reels till the end. The creator has only 20 to 30 seconds to make the first impression. 

So put the best clip at the beginning of the demo reel to grab everybody’s attention. 

2. Pick Your Clips Wisely

Never include low-quality clips in your demo reel because they will leave a negative impression. If you don’t have high-quality clips, then volunteer for some free work to make a good portfolio. 

If in case, you are the main actor of the demo reel, then make sure the focus is on yourself, instead of leaving clips of other actors.

Here are a few things you need to do:

  • Show your range in the video
  • Include scenes with better lighting and moods.
  • Make reel as per the job position 
  • Never include old footage

3. No Fancy Intros

Be as creative and skilled as you want but don’t include fancy stuff like flashy intros or special effects.

Here is what you reel should and shouldn’t have:

  • Simple animation or typography scene which has your name on it.
  • There should be no self-introduction or intro montage 
  • Mention your role besides your name in the projects mentioned in the reel

4. Include Contact Information

Even if you have provided contact details in your resume, add it to the demo reel as well because the employers may not have your CV at hand.

You might lose the best opportunity by omitting such small technicalities from your demo reel. You can always put your name, website, phone number, email address, and other contact details in the end.

5. Careful With Music

Sometimes music acts as part of your demo reel. But sometimes, it distracts the viewers and thus, they are unable to hear what an actor is speaking.

If you want to improve your demo reel, strategically add music. However, it is not important to add music, but if you are an animator, editor, or cinematographer, you can showcase your talent by adding rhythmic music. 

Apart from that, never use any copyrighted music if you don’t have permission. 

6. Be Clear About Your Role

Sometimes, the actor put clips of different projects where they are varying in roles. In such cases, mention your specialty.

7. Find an Editing Program

If you are an editor and want to make your portfolio shine more than others, then you need to learn some tricks.

  • First of all, find and install the right editing software like Adobe.
  • Find free editing toolkits online that suit your needs and make your reel more creative.

8. What About Video Format?

Now that you know all the tips to make the best demo reel. But don’t you think you’re missing something?

Well, it is video formatting! You need to focus on this area as well.

So you need to ensure that your file is in a widely supported format. It would be sad to see your demo reel getting discarded for a small reason that your employer was unable to view it.

If your file is in an unsupported format, then you can convert it with the help of various video format converters. Here, supportability plays an important role in the format.

Plus, you also want your demo reel to be in smaller size and higher quality at the same time. So with some apps, you can get the right file size without compromising the quality of the demo reel. 

How long should a demo reel be?

A demo reel is not something that should be an hour long. Its sole purpose is to serve as a demo to the employer who is looking for the right person for his film or TV show. So a demo reel should be no more than two minutes. In these sweet two minutes, you can try to include both comedic and dramatic scenes as per their demands.

What makes a good demo reel?

If you want to make a good demo reel, you just need 4 to 5 short videos of 20 to 30 seconds from your best on-screen performances. Moreover, it should include your name, website, headshot, as well as contact information. Below we have shared all the details that make a good demo reel:

  • Begin with your personal details so that the employer knows who you are and how to reach you. A headshot of 20 seconds, contact info, and the name are all you need.
  • Then choose the best quality clips to wow them from the beginning. Simply, put the name of the genre or project instead of introducing each clip.
  • The video should have high-quality sound, and highlight your performance, and the character’s depth.

If you keep these above things in your mind, then nobody can stop you from getting that job.

What are some common demo reel mistakes?

Many new filmmakers make silly mistakes and lose major projects. Such mistakes can cost them their future. So if you don’t want your viewer or the employer to cringe or point out any errors, here are two production mistakes you need to avoid at all costs.

1. Poor audio

This is the main reason behind the rejection of a demo reel. Sometimes, purchasing a fancy camera because the lights and pictures look cool, but the audio sucks. This can take away a golden chance from you. And most people make these mistakes and purchase DSLRs that have tiny microphones.

So invest in a camera that has great audio quality as well. If you don’t have enough money, then you can rent a lavalier mic or purchase a book mic.

2. The 180 rule

During the film composition, there are various rules and the major one is the 180 rule. A professional can easily make out whether the footage is shot by an amateur or a professional. 

If there are two actors in the scene, draw an imaginary line to connect them. And the camera should be set on one side of the axis, ensuring that Actor A and Actor B are in their respective places.

Make sure to follow this rule throughout your video to look like a pro filmmaker. 

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. What is an acting demo reel?

A demo reel in acting is also known as a showreel or sizzle reel. It is a or two minutes edited video that has the best video collection of an actor.

Later on, this demo reel is viewed by casting directors, managers, talent agents, as well as other potential agents when they are looking for a new actor.

2. How do I make a video reel for acting with no experience?

It is quite simple to make a video reel for acting with zero experience. All you have to do is shoot some monologues on your phone. It’s completely fine if your footage is not professional.

But make sure you look presentable and have a proper camera, lighting, and sound. Next, send it to the casting directors who are looking for performers who can act.

3. How do I make a demo reel for filmmakers?

If you want to make demo reels for filmmakers, then here are some tips you need to follow:

  • Keep your demo reel short (under 2 minutes or 90 seconds) and sweet by presenting your best work to grab the attention of the potential client.
  • Tailor the demo reel specifically to your craft and skills if you are applying for an editor, cinematographer, or director’s job.
  • Make sure to consider your demo reel content and find the right cut for your 15 to 20 seconds video by adding visual elements, storytelling, narrative quality, and music spotlights.
  • Always begin with your best and most captivating work to grab the employer’s or viewer’s attention.
  • Do not forget to add a 5 to 10-second slate or a title card with black background and text that should contain your contact information, what kind of demo reel is, your name, website, as well as email.
  • Do not use copyrighted music because it is illegal and all your hard work will go in vain if the employers reject your demo reel. You can choose from a lot of royalty-free music that suits your video.
  • Be unique and visually represent the content that highlights your personality by including creativity or humor in your demo reels.
  • If you have worked with bigger brands, then show off your clients in your demo reels so that the new employers develop trust in the integrity of your work.
  • While editing the demo reel, you see the video over and over, which muddles with your perspective, so ask for a friend’s or your mentor’s opinion to have an insight into strengthening your clip.

4. How can I get into the film acting industry?

You need to have some experience and relevant skills to get into the acting field. Here are the nine easy steps to help you to kickstart your career:

  • Although it is not required, you can still consider getting a bachelor’s degree in drama, theater, acting, or film.
  • To stand out from the crowd, it is important to make a powerful resume which should include a headshot, about me section, your qualifications, and skills, as well as education training, and background.
  • Compile a portfolio that should include your resume, your reel as well as additional work samples.
  • Create and maintain a professional website that can make a positive first impression on your potential clients.
  • Look for shoots in your area by contacting your local production companies.
  • If you are searching for job opportunities in the film industry to gain experience, improve your skills, and meet other professionals, then get involved with your local productions like TV, theater, and student films.
  • Look for more job opportunities in media industries virtually where you can work from remote places.
  • Grow your network wherever you go. You can do it by joining a union or association, following media professionals on social media, attending events and conventions, visiting film festivals, finding online communities, and maintaining old contacts.

5. What do agents want to see on your acting demo reel?

The agents want to see the best demo reel. And they mostly look for:

  • Short and sweet demo reels that are 2 to 3 minutes long.
  • Agents want a high-quality demo reel that has all the important factors.
  • They want to see your good acting skills.

6. Can I make a good short film by myself, including filming and acting?

Yes, you can! You can play the role of a writer, narrator, filmmaker, and actor in your own short film. In fact, many independent filmmakers often appear as an actor in their own films.

You can take inspiration from solo travelers, campers, explorers, and photographers. Also, keep it simple as there is only one character on the screen from the beginning till the end.