All the aspiring actors are searching for it--the one thing that will put them over the top and into the winners' circle. As our digital age speeds new information faster and faster to us, new ideas of what to do to prepare for success change and change rapidly. This is the one I found yesterday in an interview between a talk show host and an actor's manager/agent. It is not new, but it has a new twist.
I'm talking here about an actor's demo reel, that little compact disc of scenes that you submit for consideration for roles in upcoming films and series. My attitude toward demo reels has changed greatly over the past year. I think we all know that one is needed by all serious actors--at least until they are household names.
Well, here's the new twist. Until lately, no one said much about a show reel except you need one and it needs to show you at your best as an actor. But now that everyone has a show reel, yours has to be special. It has to be better than the others. The same thing happened to head shots a couple of years ago. It went from "you need a head shot that looks like you will look when you show up to audition," to "you need a dynamite head shot that will lift you over the crowd and demonstrate that you have that something special that all the others do not have. Now we are hearing the exact same thing about demo reels. Yours has to be that dynamite show reel that catches and rivets the CD's attention and holds it over and above all the other submissions for the role.
So how to you get such a show reel? First of all, you find just he perfect material for you-- a couple of short monologues and perhaps a scene or two. Then you take this well prepared material performed from several points of view to a really good professional studio that specializes in making first-rate show reels and get their help in producing it on their sound stage with professional filming, lighting, sound recording and so on. This is so the final product will be outstanding. There is no longer and room for the home made show reel shot in the actor's bed room with poor lighting, sound and camera quality. just as there is no room for a third rate head shot.
A head shot and a show reel (or demo reel) as it may be called, are competing with those that other actors have spent hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars for. As the business gets more sophisticated technically, the cost of entering the business rises. Today's aspiring actor had better earn and stash away several thousand dollars just to get his "fishing gear" (those things he or she must have to use to try to get auditions) together. Sorry, it is a business and the salesmen with the best advertisements will get the call backs.
It used to be otherwise. The world used to be a simpler place. But today's world is complex and expensive. The first thing an aspiring actor needs in order to try to become an actor is a good sized nest egg to invest in his business. He still needs the talent, the charm the special personality to demonstrate in his show reel, but that show reel had better be dynamite, so don't get chintzy, get the best you can afford.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Recently, one of my advisees career as an actor just took off. He has currently been in three productions simultaneously and is continuing to get invitations to audition for other shows. He is a very fortunate fellow whose mother has worked as hard for his acting success as he has. It often takes a family member to support and motivate one's career. This is the email I received from her today:
11:33am Apr 21
"I love the networking. His co-star in 39 steps is a director, she is also starring in Roebling with him. Her boyfriend was the lead in Scarlet Pimpernel we all saw last Friday. He knows some of the cast of Julius Caesar and told his girlfriend of another director who is looking for someone like Andrew for another play he's casting (Don't know what yet) One of his co-stars in Moon over Buffalo knows and went to college with his friend from his teenage Shakespeare days. The dialect coach for S.P was one of his McCarter theatre teachers/directors. Oh and he found himself auditioning at J.C with his drama teacher from Mercer County college. Small world. I think you should talk about this topic with would be actors on your blog. Talent and education only work so far but networking- hey once someone likes you they want to share you with the whole acting world. He's very happy and I'm proud of him. He's getting a little bit less shy of talking to people."
The engine behind this actor's success is not just his mother, but what she is doing. She is working for his future success by making contacts with the people with whom he is working. She is making sure that they will remember her son and be willing to contact him for future roles. And it is paying off. He is very busy and he is learning how to network himself which is what all aspiring actors need to be able to do.
Often the difference between getting cast and not getting cast is not your talent. You can have all the talent in the world, but the director will be more comfortable working with someone with whom he is familiar. Your ability to network properly is the biggest asset you can have as an actor. Work on it.
It is the Key to Success.