actor demo reels

Ali KlinglerEvery actor needs a video demo that will grab the viewer’s attention within seconds. A good reel should play like a story —  an engaging journey through the actor’s best work.  While it’s possible for an actor to string together some clips on home video editing software, a professional-looking reel requires precisely fine-tuned cuts, subtle transitions, well-planned pacing, audio mixing, good graphics, color correction and accurate encoding in multiple production formats . . . I could go on and on. So it’s best to place your reel in the hands of a professional editor.

But you also want to work with someone who understands acting.  Not only have I been editing 9 years, but I’ve been involved in the performing arts for over a decade (theater, improv, directing, writing, working at Starbucks for a stint, and yes even marrying an actor). So you can rest assured that I appreciate the craft of acting. I can help pick out your strongest moments, cut on punchlines, and even re-cut a scene to eliminate another actor’s close-ups while maintaining plot and pace. Allow me to nerd out on the technical side as you focus on your craft!

Rates: [updated 2016] My hourly rate for actors’ demos is $40, and the average demo takes 3-5 hours from start to finish. Once I see how much footage you have I can give you a detailed estimate.

Frequently Asked Questions [updated 2016]:  

How do we get started, and what is the workflow?

Please contact me to get started. The process usually looks like this:

  1. Send me a list of your footage and the format it’s in (DVD, link, etc.)
  2. We can discuss your goals, favorite clip selections, order and target running time.
  3. Once I have all of the material, I will begin the edit and turn it over to you via private Vimeo link for review. I recommend showing the work to your reps at this stage, if applicable.
  4. I revise as needed and send a final proof with my invoice
  5. Upon payment, I set the Vimeo link public and shareable, and I send you a link where you can download your own file. You can then use this to upload to Actors Access, imdbPro, etc. [Note — In the past I created a low res Actors Access version, but they now accept HD files uploaded directly to their site]

Can you get me TV episodes or films that I don’t have?

Usually, yes!  Let me know what you need before investing in a clipping service.

Are shorter reels less expensive?

My rates are based on hours of work, regardless of the length of the reel or number of reels/clips.

What format should my materials be in?

Send me the most “original” source you have, be it DVD or a link to where the client posted on YouTube. I can rip DVDs and will make all necessary conversions.

What is the number one thing I can do to make the reel creation process go smoothly for everyone?

As we all know, good pre-production is key! This means careful planning. My strong advice is to carefully look at your work and seek out opinions and feedback before we get started. Should you include that student film? Ask your agent first. Is that old low-budget short up to par? Ask your industry buddy first. It would be a shame to gather footage, turn it over to me, have me convert it, watch it, think about it very deeply and work it into an edit, only to have you change your mind about wanting it in your reel. Don’t worry — you’re more than welcome to change your mind. But the more you screen your work in pre-production, the faster (and cheaper!) things will be in post.

Are there copyright issues to consider when posting clips of my films & commercials online?

Here is a great article on Fair Use and what to do if YouTube automatically pulls your reel because it recognizes copyrighted content. Here is another, more detailed article.

Can I have a one-minute version for Actors Access and then a longer version for my web site?

Absolutely! I can also give you clips for Actors Access, which they recommend.

How long will this take?

Typically two weeks from receipt of materials to final delivery, depending on desired desired revisions. Rush is possible.

Will this be fun?


How will I feel when it’s over?