Breaking Up – The De-Evolution Of The Demo Reel

If you’re a subscriber of one of my particular YouTube channels, you may have seen a lot of uploads of clips and old demo reels today… Well, it was for this particular blog.

My new manager wants me to break up my current DEMO REEL into “clips” instead… Apparently, people in the biz these days don’t have time to sit through a whole two minute reel to see if you can act, or if you’re right for something.

When I started in this biz twenty years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for reels to be five minutes or longer. Actually people didn’t take you very serious as an actor if you didn’t have that much quality film on yourself. And it was a serious struggle to collect and assemble all that footage…

First off, getting quality footage was much more of a challenge then, and to collect five minutes of it for a young actor??? It was easier to get into SAG and THAT WASN’T EASY EITHER. You gotta remember we didn’t have the quality of consumer cameras around today, nor the digital medium, editing software, nor cable TV, nor the Internet.

Then I remember people in the biz saying, “No demo should be longer than three minutes…”

Then sixty second quick styled reels were the thing… And “long” reels were being cut to around two minutes.

Well, now, apparently, now it’s CLIPS.

So, well, that’s what I’m doing today. Breaking my demo reels into clips, and cutting clips from much longer cuts. And getting them on line for my manager.

It’s so funny how it all keeps changing. The easier it has become to get good, quality footage, the less they want to see it.

Nowadays, if they want to cast a cop, you send them a cop clip. If they want a funny coach you send them a funny coach clip.

It reminds me of when I started acting, many actors had different still pictures for each sort of character they might be cast in… “This is me as a doctor (lab coat and stethoscope). This one’s my lawyer shot (glasses and suit). Here’s me as a construction worker (hard hat and flannel shirt). Oh, and here’s one with a police uniform…” And if you think I’m kidding, I’m not. Thankfully this was ending as I was starting. However, in all those years, the specificity of character in pictures and demo reels, oddly, have flipped.

When I started, demo reels were just ways to show people who didn’t know you that you had a range as an actor, and a way to prove that you could pull the trigger of your emotions in front of a camera. Basically, at that time, reels were just used to show people in the biz that you’ve been hired, how you look on camera, and that you could act.

Embedded below are a few short CLIPS, long SCENES and some old DEMOS… Actor’s Access is breaking apart several of my demos for their site as I write this, so I don’t have clips broken out from my newer demo reels… You’ll have to imagine them. I even uploaded some of the oldest demos I could find just for smiles, laughs and fun. You might find some of them interesting or at least entertaining. Sadly, I think my very first demos have been lost forever… (insert joke about “talkies” and black and white footage).

As always If you learn anything or have any epiphanies while reading this blog or watching the videos below, please share… We all learn from each other.  Or maybe you’re an actor starting out, and you find 20 years of random footage inspirational in some way…

– Quiche Out

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