These days, it seems like no one believes in a product until they can try it for themselves…for free. I know that I’m guilty of it. My favorite part of shopping at Costco is getting to try all the free samples. Most of the time when I try a product, I feel indifferent about it and move on to the rest of my shopping. However, every so often, I find something that I really like. A new product I cannot live without. Costco has many products that I never notice, but sometimes all it takes is a free sample and I’m loyal to that brand every time I shop.
So, why not rip a page from the Costco playbook! Go ahead and give your buyers a “free sample”. For us actors, this comes in the form of a demo reel. Your headshot may show that you’re pretty or quirky or an edgy butt-kicking vixen; but it doesn’t show how you walk, how you talk, and how you ACT! It’s hard to get anyone to buy without sampling the goods first. They want proof. And the proof, as they say, is in the puddin’. And the puddin’…is your demo reel.
The good news is it’s easier than ever to produce your own reel! You can hire someone to shoot and edit one for you, or you can do it yourself. Camera equipment is cheaper than ever and there is so much information out there to help you learn to light your scene, film and even edit.
Here are some quick tips for shooting your reel:
1. Decide what you want to showcase.
Do you have a type of role that you do better than most of your peers? Or a type of scene that you always knock out of the park? These are the scenes you want to shoot. This is one reason why shooting your own reel can be more beneficial than waiting forever for that student film footage, you get to choose the material. You can write the scene yourself or find a (not famous) scene from an old movie or show and revise it. Just change the character names and some of the specifics. In the end, all you really need to show is that YOU CAN ACT!
2. Concentrate on lighting and sound.
Do a little research on this before you shoot. Sound quality is the number one killer of good footage and lighting isn’t far behind. The whole point of this is to see and hear you act!
3. Remember that your reel is constantly evolving.
Yes, it would be nice if you didn’t have to do this yourself. It would be great if you could just have a ton of network footage to cut together. Someday you will. And when that day comes, you may decide to delete this footage that you’re shooting now. Just as we are always updating our head shots, you will also update your reel. It will always be changing, and this is the first step to get you there.
4. There’s always the delete button.
I’ve wasted a lot of time not doing things because I was afraid they wouldn’t be good enough. I was always waiting for a better time, more money, or better equipment. Don’t wait, start shooting. Always remember, if it looks like a hot mess, you can always delete it. No one has to know.
5. Have fun!
Now you get to act. In scenes that you feel perfectly cast in. What an awesome day you have planned! Have fun with it because people like watching people that are having a good time. Look at the cast of BRIDESMAIDS or THE NEW GIRL. They are having a freakin’ blast and I love watching it. Give that gift to your buyers and they will be begging for more.
Now get out there and shoot something!
****This article originally appeared on Msinthebiz.com****