How to Make a Demo Reel With No Experience
If you are trying to find work as an actor in the film and television industries, you will more than likely need to submit a demo reel. An acting resume lists your past work, but a demo reel can visually show your talents through an edited collection of videos. Although it’s easy to put together video clips once you have collected a body of work, it is more difficult to provide one if you are just starting your acting career. This guide will provide tips on how to make a demo reel with no experience.
Tips for How to Make a Video Reel for Acting with No Experience
1. Shoot a Video of Yourself Performing Simple Tasks or Everyday Activities
While it is important to include monologues for demo reels in order to show your ability to memorize lines and perform from a script, it can be acceptable to show clips of you performing a simple action. Compared to acting on a large stage, acting for the camera is very understated and there are plenty of quiet moments that are recorded. Also, camera acting is highly realistic, so characters are saying their lines while performing tasks just like how people talk while doing other things in real life. Clips of you doing something simple like brushing your hair or walking down the street provide casting directors an opportunity to see how you look on camera and see an example of your acting in times without dialogue.
2. Record Yourself Talking About Your Skills and Experience
Though the majority of your reel should be filled with examples of your acting, you could choose to introduce it by talking directly to the camera. Taking a few seconds to clearly and calmly state your name and briefly explain your experience gives the viewer a chance to see how you are perceived on camera and what the tone of your voice is like. Because you are portraying yourself and not a character, make sure that you are relaxed and comfortable so you come across as someone easy to work with.
This process is similar to slating which is often done at in-person on-camera auditions. When actors come in to audition for a part, the readings are categorized by character and in order to keep actors straight, they are asked to slate, meaning they state their name, the character they are auditioning for, and what talent agent they work with (if any). So creating a polished introduction in your reel can also prepare you for your introduction when you are asked to audition.
3. Use Stock Footage or Images to Supplement Your Own Videos
When you are learning how to make a demo reel with no experience, it can feel overwhelming to create all of the images yourself. To relieve a little bit of that stress, you can turn to stock images to add something extra to your reel. You can choose to use stock images or footage in order to separate your video clips into different categories. For example, you could show an image of someone laughing before you give a funny monologue and then display an image of someone crying before you perform a contrasting dramatic piece. There are many varieties of stock images and footage available on the internet that you can purchase and some are even available for free.
4. Create a Soundtrack that Fits the Tone of Your Reel
Casting directors go through endless stacks of demos when looking for talent and when you are learning how to make a demo reel with no experience, you need to find ways to make yours stand out from the rest. A great way to do this is by adding music. Not only does a soundtrack make it look more professional, but music can also set the tone of what your video clips are about. If you are an actress who mainly auditions for comedic roles in teen movies, your soundtrack can be light and bubbly. On the other hand, if you are an actor who prefers dramatic and gritty roles, your music can be somber and foreboding.
There are companies like Yummy Sounds that contain a library of royalty-free music that you can purchase. Or you can look to a friend with musical talents who can compose and perform a simple tune.
5. Edit Everything Together Into a Cohesive Package
A huge part of learning how to make an acting reel is learning how to put it all together and if you are learning how to make a demo reel with no experience, it is extremely important to show that you know what a cohesive video reel should look like. If it is choppy and disjointed, your reel will not stand out and could result in a rejection. However, a well-edited package that flows well and clearly sets a tone and message could be the reason a casting director decides to book you.
There are many editing services available online that provide step-by-step instructions in order to edit your various clips into one seamless piece. You could also rent a program or editing tool from a film production house or hire a professional editor to take on the project. Another option is to reach out to film students in your area. They have access to all of the necessary equipment and often need practice or video reels of their own. Working on your reel provides them with experience and you with a finished product from a passionate editor and professional equipment.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
As with any new skill, it takes time and practice to succeed at it. When you are learning how to make a demo reel with no experience, it will take practice in multiple areas.
Give yourself time to rehearse your scenes or monologues. Take the time to pick the right material that showcases your talents. Also, try to pick pieces that are contrasting in a way that will show your range but are similar enough to clearly illustrate the types of roles you should be cast for. Once you have decided on your pieces, shorten them so they fit in your overall reel timeframe. Once your lines are memorized, practice performing your monologue while performing various tasks in order to be more comfortable with the words so it will seem natural and not so rehearsed.
Practice your introduction while looking in the mirror. Take a deep breath before you start and put on a smile. Make sure you are standing up straight, relaxed with your shoulders back. This is also a good time to pick an outfit and a hairstyle for the introduction. You want to make sure the casting directors see the real you so don’t hide behind distracting clothes and heavy make-up.
Play around with different editing tools and music until the flow and tone are just right. Try cutting the pieces differently from each other. Play around with the order of the clips and see if that makes a difference in tone. Try out different soundtracks in various parts of the reel to see how the overall feel changes.
Keep practicing and don’t give up. Remember that this demo reel is going to be what gets your foot in the door, so it is important not to rush the process. The time spent planning and practicing really can make a huge difference in the quality of the final product.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Make a Demo Reel With No Experience
Do I need to have experience in the film industry in order to create a reel?
No, when you are learning how to make a video reel for acting with no experience, it is perfectly acceptable to include monologues, scenes with an acting partner, or excerpts from a performance in a film class. Professional experience is not required to put on your original reel. However, it is important to keep your reel updated as you accumulate better work.
What type of equipment do I need in order to create a captivating reel?
The main items that you will need are a camera, microphone, lighting equipment, and editing software. Keep in mind that your reel is going up against others that include professional footage, but don’t let the fact that you are learning how to make a demo reel with no experience deter you from making a high-quality product. Film schools or colleges that offer on-camera classes have access to this basic equipment. They have students learning how to use all of this equipment who might be willing to be your crew in exchange for a copy of your scenes for their own reel or for class credit. There are also rental houses that will let you borrow the equipment for a short amount of time.
What should I include in my reel?
There are a few important things to include when you are learning how to make an acting reel. First, you need some sort of introduction of yourself and your skills. You can do this by actually talking to the camera or by using text in the opening frames of the video. Then, you need three to five short clips of monologues or scenes that showcase your work on camera. Finally, you need to include your contact information so casting directors know how to get ahold of you. This can be done through text or by speaking directly to the camera like your introduction.
Remember, your demo reel should showcase your skills and experience, as well as your creative style. Think about who you are as an actor and the types of roles you would like to be cast in and create your reel with those facts in mind.
Where do I find monologues for demo reels?
Including high-quality monologues is important when you are learning how to make a demo reel with no experience. There are websites that offer free monologues as well as a number of books that offer monologue collections.
When picking out monologues, keep in mind the types of characters you want to portray and the overall tone of your reel. Also, understand that a lot of monologues available have been written for the stage but they are perfectly acceptable for on-camera acting if the performance is more internal and less showy.
How long should my reel be?
Ideally, a demo reel should be only between 1 and 2 minutes long. The main reason for this is that casting directors and agents simply do not have the time to watch longer videos. Also, the qualities they are looking for like how you look on camera, the sound of your voice, and your acting skills are visible no matter how long your reel is, so it is not necessary to create a long one. This does work in your favor though, because when you are learning how to make a video reel for acting with no experience it does not require you to make long video clips.
How can I make sure my reel stands out from the crowd?
Just like stated earlier, one of the best ways to make your reel shine is to practice, practice, practice! Brush up on your skills and as your confidence increases, it will definitely show when you are filming. Make sure that your reel is well-edited and tells a cohesive story.
And most importantly, make sure it’s original and creative. The decision to call you in for an audition ofter relies solely on these two minutes of footage, so make sure it provides a clear impression of who you are as an actor and what you can bring to a project. It is completely ok that you are learning how to make a demo reel with no experience, but providing a clear message of what you bring to a table could give you the edge you need when you are going against other actors who have professional footage on their reel.
Learning how to make a demo reel with no experience can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. You now should have a better understanding of what exactly a demo reel is and what is required to make one. You now also know that professional clips are not necessary to make a successful reel. The important thing is to have a clear vision and create your reel to reflect that. Now that you have learned a few tips and tricks you can start your reel and start booking acting jobs.
The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support Clever Sequence