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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reels on DVD - A Thing of the Past?

For at least a decade, actors have been accustomed to collecting their on-camera footage, hiring a good editor, and then pressing ungodly amounts of DVDs in anticipation of sending them out to industry folks. But as technology has shifted much of our marketing/ promotions online, actors are starting to wonder if burning reels to DVD is a necessary part of the business.

Sarah, one of my treasured readers, writes:
Hello Erin, 
My husband and I are moving back to LA after working elsewhere for almost 7 years.  We did our updated demo reels and now I’m wondering what to do with them?  Since we’ve been away there are many online casting websites that have gained popularity and our commercial agents don’t even use printed headshots anymore (all LA Casting online)!  The world has changed in a short amount of time!  So my question is: do I need to have the reels printed on DVD’s?  Is that relevant anymore?  Isn’t most marketing done via e-mail now in which I could just include a link to the reel on my website?  Should I just print a few in case we use them for networking in person or would you just give someone your business card with the website where they could look at all your materials including the reel? 
Thanks for any thoughts you’re willing to share and I hope this might inspire a blog post to help others answer this question too!

Great question - I myself have heard lots of opinions on the subject. As you know, the internet is changing the face of our industry almost daily. As I’ve seen more and more casting go online (particular with the growth of YouTube and Vimeo), I’ve held the opinion that DVDs for theatrical/legit reels were becoming a thing of the past and that providing a link would be sufficient. And I think that remains true for most actors, particularly those who are still doing lo/no/deferred pay jobs and have limited budgets. But I just saw this piece of feedback from Los Angeles casting director, Marci Liroff, regarding DVD demo reels:
"...You can have many versions of your demo reel - have it on a link that I don't have to download, and have hard copy DVDs ready just in case. When I'm walking into the President of the studio's office - we want to show your stuff on a DVD - not on their computer!"

So, I'd suggest having a few DVDs handy that can easily be loaded into DVD players, for those situations where someone would prefer to watch your reel on a TV screen. I’d also recommend that you have your own professional website where the online footage lives, or you at least have an easy-to-view/navigate YouTube channel. There are other resources where you can post your reel: Actors Access, LA Casting, iActor, IMDB, etc, which are great to have your reel posted to, but they should not be the links that you give out when sending a submission.

For voice actors, CDs are still a standard way of sharing your work with industry folks. And, surprisingly, it is still common to send them through mailed submissions. Having them online is also a great way of gaining exposure. In addition, try checking out some voiceover sites where demos can be posted for potential clients to listen to.

Click to read my post on compiling footage and producing your demo reel.

Hope this helps - thanks for the suggestion of posting this to my blog -- voila!

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out


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