What exactly is a sizzle reel, you ask?

I sat down with actors from around the globe to give advice, run lines, and discuss the industry’s current state. One thing that kept coming up was: “I don’t like my showreel”, and I want agents to contact me once it’s over. The sizzle reel is the answer, ladies and gentlemen. A sizzle reel is a compilation of self-tapes edited together to demonstrate your acting abilities. You can have monologues or scenes. However, I prefer scenes whenever possible. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make sizzle reels.

Preparation

Preparation is the most important step in creating a sizzle reel. Pick and focus on two scenes or a monologue. Importantly, this shouldn’t be more than three minutes thirty. Agents, casting directors and producers are all busy people. They are unlikely to view the entire video. They won’t even open a 15-minute opus if you send it to them. We need two short, hot scenes and a great monologue. Consider your casting. What roles are you most comfortable with? Prepare a scene or monologue to reflect that idea.

You can see my headshot at the bottom of the page. I look like a friendly fellow, right? I’m often cast as best friends and nerds. These roles are not my favourite, but they’re what I see myself as on a basic level. I will include a scene in the sizzle reel that gives them that energy.

My next act would be something different. I get cast sometimes as a bad guy or weirdo or serial killer. You probably think it’s a bit rude. These roles are fun for me. It’s a way to get into the mind of a bad guy, and it gives me a reason to watch more Mindhunter, which is amazing. Whatever that may look like for you, it is possible. Please take a few monologues and scenes that contrast and put them together before you start shooting. After you have edited the scene, choose the strongest one. Continue reading for more information.

You may also have some recent self-tapes that you could also use. So review your material. We’re looking for castability and range, and it should be easy to use. It should be as hot as possible, i.e. You are doing some hot work, so make it happen!

Shooting

It should be shot exactly as you would with any other self-tape. StageMilk.com has tonnes of helpful guides on how to self-tape. You might try monologues if you cannot find a reader when you’re alone (thanks, COVID-19).

Editing

Now Indiana Kwong wrote an excellent article recently called the Ultimate Showreel Guide, and she gives you some excellent options about editing towards the end of the article. Also, she has a list of places you can look for good scenes and a bunch of tips and tricks to make your showreel or sizzle reel as good as it can be. Think of your sizzle reel as an accent to your showreel. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you found it useful. Sizzle reels are a powerful, inexpensive, and effective tool that you can add to your showreel, resume, and headshot. They are loved by agents and focus on you as an actor and your ability to audition.

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