Demo reels: Your 24/7 audition at the push of a button!

By Brian Henninger

Demo reels. I’ve seen good ones, bad ones, long ones, short ones, memorable, and not memorable. A great demo reel can help you get your foot in the door to auditions and castings you normally wouldn’t get. Especially if you don’t have agency representation. A bad demo reel can completely kill your chances before you even step into the audition room.

Keep it short and sweet: Most casting directors or producers are going to turn off your demo reel after about 45 seconds to a minute. If they are nice or patient they may watch the whole thing but it’s not likely as they have so many submissions and resumes to look over. My recommendation for a good demo reel length is right around three to three and a half minutes. This keeps it short enough that anyone watching wont get bored, and also long enough that there is opportunity for you to really showcase yourself.

Use quality footage: It has never been easier to get professional quality footage from relatively affordable cameras. Obviously if you’ve been working already and have footage of music videos, performances, TV shows and other things you’ve done then you should use that footage. If you’re newer to the industry you can ask a friend with a nice camera to film you, or you can invest in a camera  yourself (A good camera is a great investment and will pay off especially if you’re interested in getting into choreography). Make sure the footage is clear, not shaky, and of a high quality or it’s going to be very hard to get anyone to watch your reel.

Make sure they can see YOU!: If you’ve been working and you have some footage of projects you’ve done, make sure that you’re including footage that clearly shows you dancing. Footage where you’re one of 40 dancers in a flash mob is not useful and it doesn’t showcase anything regarding your actual talents as a performer. Remember, it’s your demo reel so you need to keep the focus on you!

Make an effort to keep it updated: This can be tedious with video editing and the time it normally takes to compile footage and put together a reel. An easy way to do this is to keep a folder on your computer full of video files from shows, classes, and any other projects you do so that every 6 months you can easily go into that folder and use your latest clips to update your reel. Obviously if you don’t have any new footage after 6 months then a good idea in that case would be to have someone film some newer footage of you.  This also challenges you as an artist to keep evolving and creating new movement so you affectively kill two birds with one stone!

These are all just guidelines to what makes a great demo reel, it’s up to you to keep track of footage, and do the work of putting on together. Don’t neglect this powerful tool!

Head on over to to check out even more dance industry tips!

Photo: Via The People Say Project


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