Reels Are the New Headshot

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A reel gives a casting director a lot of valuable information.

Casting directors and associates want to find the best person for every role. They want to bring in actors that fit their needs, and they want to do it quickly. With limited budgets, fleeting time and a lot of distractions, casting companies have a tough job. It also feels like casting processes are getting shorter and shorter. This means that casting directors have less time to see actors audition, and must prioritize who they have time to seen.

This is why more and more casting directors are requesting reels. Headshots have been an industry staple for years, required by every agency, director and manager. They have been the only standard until now.

With casting offices hoping to see the best of the best in a shorter amount of time, reels make that possible. Let’s face it: casting directors and directors have specific things in mind when conducting auditions. The casting map that creative teams are putting together is an ever-changing cross-section of factors and dynamics. Reels grant the opportunity to access a greater range of actor options in less time. This increases their odds of finding the most interesting options to present to the creative team.

From the actor’s perspective, it allows them (or their agent) to submit for a lot more opportunities. When successfully made, a reel can give a casting director a lot of valuable information about the actor. With more submissions comes a higher chance of audition appointments where said actor is in serious consideration for roles, which leads to more bookings. This allows you to be proactive with your career by making your talent significantly more accessible. It's far easier exposure compared to fighting at an EPA to be seen (often in quite low consideration) for two minutes of obligatory viewing. Plus, it is a way for actors to professionally market themselves on their website and social media platforms, making industry connections that much easier.

Reels are not only the future for casting; they are the now. Some agents will not even accept new clients unless their work has been documented with video footage. After all, every other artistically inclined industry requires a portfolio of some sort. It’s time for theatre to catch up.

The bottom line is that auditions are stressful for everyone. At least with a reel, the actor gets to take control over their circumstances and present themselves in a light in which they want to be seen. Reels are powerful. They tell the story of the actor, and so much more.

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