Alright it’s about to get REEL about what an actor needs in this industry. Get it?! So many actors get caught up in this viscous circle of needing a reel to show their work, and not having any professional work to show to casting directors, producers, and directors. A great deal of actors I know are bumping their heads against a wall trying to get themselves into the “right” rooms with the “right” people. These days an actor has to ask not “who can help me?” but rather, “how can I help myself?” Actors need to become more like entrepreneurs and figure out the best ways to present themselves to this crazy all encompassing industry. To get some professional input, I sat down with Brett Newton and Noah Edward, Co- Owners of LA REELS, to see what they would suggest to an actor who needs to get a reel of work, have their work seen, and how to be pro-active in their career.
If an actor is just starting out or has no professional credits, what advice would you give to them for the next steps to take for their career?
Noah: The best solution is to produce your own content. Whether you hire a team to film footage for you or you do it yourself, the experience is invaluable, and will teach you so much about the filmmaking process. Networking is also crucial. Get out and make friends with fellow actors and filmmakers, because we all climb the ladder better together.
Brett: I agree. The traditional method of submitting to student films or independent films is one way for actors to start getting credits on their resume and to gain experience, but it’s also time consuming and you don’t always land the roles you want.
So would you say it is important for actors to create their own work and be entrepreneurial?
Noah: It is absolutely invaluable to dive into this business and learn as much as you can about not just the craft of acting, but the business of making movies. Understanding what a producer or a director is going through while you’re on set will help you deliver a solid performance. There’s no better way for you to understand how the business of making movies works than to do it. With the many resources out there today, the barriers to acquiring funding and knowledge of how to complete a show are more accessible than ever.
How important do you think it is for actors to have a reel of work?
Brett: Let’s face it, competition is fierce, you need to stand out and let the decisions makers know that you have the experience and talent required to deliver a professional performance. Acting on stage and acting on camera are almost completely different. The essence of emotion is still there, but there are different things to know when you’re projecting to the last row in a theatre and when the lens of a camera looks through your eyes and into your soul. An acting demo reel will show your professional knowledge and working on camera as well as multiple characters and a range that you are capable of playing. You can have a scene that caters to procedural television and drama while another to comedy and yet another to high intensity. There are many possibilities and there are many casting directors, directors, producers out there looking for 1 specific thing. It’s always great if your reel is ready to reflect that.
What are the 3 most important qualities or aspects that every reel should have?
Brett: With a new actor we usually recommend having a comedy, procedural (drama) and high stakes indy film scene. It shows a range of characters and emotions for an actor and will be great to show off your talents for a diversity of work.
How often should an actor update their reel?
Brett: Whenever you get new content that is more professional and better production value than what you currently have. Or, when an actor wants to portray themselves with a different image to be cast in different roles.
Once an actor has a reel, how can they make sure the right people are watching it?
Noah: Share it. Spread it. Promote it. Print a business card with your picture and a link to your reel on it, and get out to networking events with people in the industry. Tell people you are an actor and leave a great impression with everyone you meet. This town is small and people remember a great impression, as well as a bad one. A great reel is useless if it’s never seen. Don’t give up!
Any last advice for actors struggling to land more work?
Brett: If you want to act, than act. There is nothing keeping you from reading a script out loud, getting friends together and putting on a performance, or getting in a great class. The reality of the business is that the majority of actors are not working and the majority of those actors are not doing anything to progress their career. Take some initiative! The worst thing you can do is be stagnant and doing nothing. The best thing you can do is submit to 10 agents and get turned down 10 times and then keep submitting. There is no right or wrong way to progress in this industry. With that in mind, stay positive, stay pro active and stay motivated!
LA Reels is a full service production company specializing in Actor Demo Reels, commercials and short films. To learn more about their services go to www.LAREELS.com.
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