Once again, we’ve heard from our friend Jessica Pettyjohn over at headshots101.com. She’s provided us with wisdom concerning a new actor’s greatest undoing: reels.


As soon as you have headshots, you hear it… you need reels!!! Agents want you to have them. Managers need them. Casting directors and producers request them….. so what do you need exactly?

Let me explain first what a reel is…

A reel is a clip or a series of clips that display an actor’s work. Before the advent of the internet, reels were montages of different characters they have played. These would be put on VHS or DVD and mailed out to a casting director. Now, however, that is not the case, and reels can be seen with much greater accessibility. When you have a co-star or guest star role, you create a singular clip under 2 minutes and attach that clip to each of the resume lines on your Actors Access account, as well as the various other casting outlet sites, such as LA Casting, Frontier Casting, etc. In addition, you would add these clips to your personal acting website. In other words, no DVDs need to created.

Do you smell that? It’s the sweet scent of technology.

If you videotape your scene in acting class, that is not a reel. If you are an extra being featured for 4 seconds on a film or TV show, that is not a reel. If you do a low budget student film or indie film and the quality is horrendous, guess what? It is better to not use it. This is your promo. You need it to be strong or casting directors will roll their eyes and say next.

All reels should have the following:

-Opens with your name clearly legible. Simple, clean font.
-All clips to need to open on you!!!!
-Don’t be afraid to edit others out so that it looks like you have more screen time.
-Always close on you.
-Run time for each clip should be under 2 minutes.

These points can be a challenge for sure, but they make the reels effective. Reels need to be strong. They need to show your skills and they need to show you. For an example of reels that I put together of my daughters work, you can visit the reels page of her website that she made with MyActingSite.com. Click HERE.

Ok…. so what do you do if you need reels and don’t have them? What do you do if you don’t have pieces that are strong? You roll up those sleeves and start networking with people. Find a writer and someone with a good camera and shoot something simple. But if it doesn’t look professional…. move on and create another. You must be a professional. You must present professional quality work in order to get more professional quality work and climb up the ladder. It’s a challenge. It’s a part of the game of winning. YOU CAN DO IT!!! DO IT RIGHT AND YOUR ODDS ARE BETTER!!!