It was a sunny spring day when I got a reply from a top talent agent in LA. I e-mailed her via LinkedIn to request her consideration for representing me. I was sitting in my car thinking, wow! She actually responded to by e-mail! That must be good right? Wrong. In a nutshell her e-mail blasted me saying she wouldn’t even look at anything [demo reel] over 6 months old. My stomach dropped and I knew my talent agent search would not be easy. I remember thinking to myself, I’m lucky if I’m able to pull my footage together in 6 months!
This was a turning point for me, when I realized what I needed to do for myself, as well as my clients; provide creative, high quality material on demand and not count on freelance gigs to come along for the sake of fresh demo reel content.
Since then, I was fortunate enough to sign on with a fantastic, well known talent agency which has given me the guidance and support to keep me going through this tough business. But in the beginning, I heard just about everything from potential agents.
It’s not safe to assume that you will have on-air jobs lined up consistently, never the less enough good material for a whole new reel. Some agents are flexible and work with what you have, but for the most part they want fresh material to submit.
Talent agent Mark Turner, Vice President of Abrams Artists Agency in the Alternative Programming Division says for him, “It’s more about the quality of the footage. Does the person look the same and does it convey the personality, expertise or experience that’s necessary to get them a job?”
“If something is 2 years old, but still looks great, you can weave it in to more recent footage”, says Turner.
Some reputable talent agencies will put a reel together for their clients but other agencies count on the client to come up with fresh material and to provide them with a knockout demo reel.
I always had a hand in creating my own demo reel, and I actually prefer it that way. As any performer knows, we are our toughest critics and what one person may think is our best.. just isn’t… in our eyes.
5 Reasons Why a Fresh Demo Reel Matters:
1.) It’s a Small World
It’s a small world. Chances are, if you were submitted for a job 6 months ago, the same casting agency/director will most likely receive another submission on your behalf. They want to see what you’ve done recently. If nothing new, fresh material you shot on your own showcasing you in a different light.
2.) Looks Matter
If you dyed your hair, cut it short, got a nose ring or had your weight fluctuate quite a bit, the casting agent needs to know this before considering you for a job. They may be looking for a specific type, and if this is the case, your looks DO matter.
3.) Shows Diversity and Growth
Even if you haven’t landed an on-air job in over a year you have the opportunity to shoot fresh material that showcases your talent for a particular job. This allows you full control of the type of segments you have on your reel, the type of reads you want and the look or vibe you’re going for. Just using what you have doesn’t always cut it. Especially if the quality is low or it shows you doing breaking news when you really want a hosting job!
4.) It Makes You More Marketable
I’ve had hosting reels as well as broadcast news reels, and at times I’ve combined them. It all depends on the jobs I’m going out for. This is where the type of demo reel material really comes into play. Let’s say your talent agent wants to now pitch you as a technology expert whereas before you were a general assignment reporter with a fair number of technology stories under your belt. Your agent needs to show you as the “expert”. This requires more diverse video clips which makes you more marketable!
5.) Shows You’re Serious About Your Career
How many times have you YouTubed hosting, news or acting reels just so you can see what others in your industry are doing? I do this at least a few times a month. I always like to research what’s new, cutting edge and how I can be different! Having tired old footage, or low quality clips really gives the impression you’re not serious about your career.
If you haven’t worked in a while, or don’t want to use the footage you have, consider hiring a professional production team that specializes in demo reels for on-air talent. If it helps land you your next job, it’s fully worth the investment!