Frequently Asked Questions
This information is offered as general advice only. Please feel free to consult with me about your specific material as every Reel is unique. Still have questions? Call the studio at 416.203.6720 – or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does a great Reel look like?
Keep it short! Less is more! All the best Reels are less than 5 min. long and answer the only relevant question, “Can I cast this person?” A great Reel persuades that you are castable. It creates energy, confidence, and a sense that every time you appear on screen something golden happens in the frame. A great Reel should be created with the viewer in mind and should engage, entertain and persuade in equal measure. Reels are all about range. We should see as many characters as possible – juxtaposing the opposites. We want to see killers & clowns – crack whores & queens. Make me laugh – make me cry – all in 3 minutes. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Most actors will work a lifetime to get this kind of range. But this is the ideal that guides the work we do. And whether you believe it or not, locked away in your material is the beginning of a great Reel.
How much material do I need to make a Reel?
One of the biggest misconceptions about Reels is that “I don’t have enough material.” This is never true. The material you have dictates the kind of Reel we can create – that’s all. If you have one scene from one episode of a series – then your Reel is one scene. We just want to see how you’ve been cast and what you can do. If you only have scenes on video from acting workshops – then we make your Reel from this. We all understand what it means to be at the beginning of a career. No matter what the case, it is always better to have a Reel than to not have one.
How much does it cost? How long does it take?
Demo Reel editing is charged by the hour. The studio rate is currently CAD$120/hr. + HST. The typical Actor Demo Reel takes approximately 3 hours to complete – so you will probably spend about $250 – $450 depending on how much material you have and how well-prepared you are for the session. If you are updating an existing Demo Reel with one or two new scenes, your session will be shorter. If you are doing a major overhaul on your existing Reel, or starting from scratch and have lots of material, your session will be longer. The minimum studio charge is $75.
I make all kinds of financial arrangements with my clients. Want to pay over time? Short of cash right now? Easy payment terms can be worked out. Just ask.
When are you currently available?
Look for my calendar at the bottom of my Homepage where you can find the next available sit-down session date, and other current studio information.
Can I use video files downloaded from YouTube or other Internet sites?
The answer is usually Yes. Some websites that stream episodic television shows prohibit the downloading of their video files. But most anything that appears on YouTube or Vimeo is ok. If you want me to check a particular website for you, just send me the link. We can usually perform the download during your session, or if you have already downloaded video files for yourself just bring them in. But be aware that some video files downloaded from the Internet can be compressed and won’t look as good as your material from DVD. We can re-size and colour-correct the downloaded scenes, but they might have a lower resolution than the other material. But if this is the only copy of the scene you can get, it is much better to have it than not have it on your Reel. Virtually all files downloaded from the web will need to be converted during the session before we can work with them. This is commonly fast and easy to accomplish. For example, all .mp4 files will need to be converted to .mov (QuickTime) before we can work with them.
NOTE: Issues with iTunes video files! If you are getting your source video files from iTunes make sure you contact me before you bring them in!
Sit-down or electronic session?
When you book a sit-down session, you come to the studio in downtown Toronto and bring your material with you on DVD or video files, and we sit together for several hours and create your Reel. This is the classic editing session that has been the standard for years.
Now that we all have high speed internet connections, a new option exists for an electronic editing session whereby you upload your material to me over the internet, I cut the Reel on my own and send the final Demo Reel back to you several days later. This is a great solution if you can’t visit the studio, live outside downtown Toronto, are too busy to book a sit-down, or need the Reel in a hurry. It’s also easier for me to schedule electronic sessions in my calendar when it’s very busy.
The process is very much the same as it always was: you collect your material, write your Log Sheet and other notes for me, and upload everything directly to me using my personal uplink. I will review the material, consult with you on the phone or on Skype, and then begin the work. When I have the Reel completed, I send you a link so you can download the finished Demo Reel. We discuss any final tweaks or changes, and the job is done.
Sit-down or electronic session – totally up to you. Many clients prefer the personal connection of being in the studio and working together – or they don’t want to do all the uploading at the computer. But in equal measure, the ease and speed of electronic file transfers make it an ideal solution for many.
How do I upload my video files and DVDs to you?
Watch the Video Tutorial for Uploading your Video
Using a Transfer Service to move files around is very common today. We all want to share photos, videos and documents with each other but most of the time the files are too big to attach to emails. That’s why Transfer Services exist. They allow us to send bigger files to each other without clogging up our inboxes. You can use any Transfer Service you like to send your video files to me. Hightail, We Transfer and Dropbox are the most popular – but there are many others. If you already have a favourite, then go ahead and send me files any way you want! I use Hightail and here is the link to my upload page. Simply follow the prompts on the page. It’s as easy as dragging your files into the box, writing me a quick message, and clicking Upload. Send as many files as you want – any size – any format. And make sure you send me your Log Sheet along with the video files or in a separate email.
Keep in mind that many video files are quite large in size and make take a long time to upload. How long a file takes to upload depends on two things: how big the file is and how fast your internet connection is.
Small video files would be considered anywhere from 50 megabytes to a few hundred megabytes, and will upload in a matter of minutes with a high speed connection. From 500 to 1000 megabytes, the files are getting bigger and uploads times increase to about a half hour or more. One thousand megabytes is a gigabyte – and video files that are two, three and four gigabytes in size are among the biggest I deal with. These may take several hours to upload and best to do it overnight or when you are not using the computer for anything else. This is generally what to expect – but upload times will vary wildly depending on numerous factors. The vast majority of uploads are completed easily and efficiently and I rely on them daily in the course of my business.
Watch the Video Tutorial for Uploading your Video
What video formats can you use?
I can use almost any format there is! Today, the most common formats are Electronic Video Files like .mp4, .mov, mkv., etc., and DVDs. If you have some unusual format from another country, have material on video tape, or aren’t sure what you have, call me so we can discuss it. But no matter what video formats you have, make sure we discuss them before the day of the session. If you are creating your own files or converting from files someone has given you, here are my preferred file formats:
Standard Definition (SD): QuickTime (.mov), DV, 720×480, 48k Audio, 30fps, Data Rate of up to 30 Mbits/sec (no higher).
High Definition (HD): QuickTime (.mov), Apple Pro Res, 720p or 1080p, 48k Audio, 24fps, Data Rate of up to 100 Mbits/sec (no higher).
It is ok if your files differ in specification. We will just have to convert them on the day – a fast and easy process.
What video format will my Reel be on?
The most useful format in today’s Casting world will be an Electronic Video File – such as a QuickTime Video File – that can be uploaded to Casting Workbook, IMDb, Actors Access, etc. – or easily delivered to people over the Internet. If possible, bring a laptop computer or mini-USB drive with you to your sit-down session so you can take your electronic Demo Reel file home with you. If you don’t have either of these, I can provide a link for a small fee that allows you, and anyone you choose, to download your Demo Reel file. This link is valid for 14 days, during which time you must download and save your Demo Reel file to your computer. Beyond this time, additional requests to provide a download link to your Reel are subject to an additional fee.
Note: Even in today’s HD world, many of the Reels I produce are SD. Feel free to discuss your specific material with me.
What can I expect during my sit-down session?
Most clients sit in the room with me during the session and the two of us create together. The goal is to get you in and out of the studio quickly with the best Reel possible given the scope of your material. With over 1600 Reels to my credit, I have the process down to a science. I work quickly and efficiently – allowing maximum time for creativity and collaboration. I evaluate all scenes with you – make strong suggestions – and guide the session fully. During the average session, we will spend the first hour or so organizing your files and creating the project in the software, and about two hours polishing the final cut.
What forms of payment do you accept?
I take personal and company cheques – cash – and eTransfers from your bank to my bank using my email address at email@example.com. I can also accept payments through PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org – but depending on the amount you may have to pay the 3% PayPal surcharge as well. Unfortunately, I can not accept any plastic forms of payment such as debit or credit cards. If you have booked an electronic session, I will frequently require a deposit before beginning any work. All sit-down Session Payments are due on the day of the session. Additional payment and credit terms can be easily worked out. Just ask.
How should I prepare for my session?
The most important element in preparing for your session is getting to know where all your chosen scenes are on the DVDs or video files you bring to the session or upload to me. This means you must do your homework before your session begins. Watch and evaluate all your scenes thoroughly. Get advice from colleagues, agents and industry pros – what are the strongest moments? Make a Log Sheet for all your scenes. Each source you bring to the session or upload needs to be Logged – this means writing down the numbers where all your chosen scenes appear. Try to avoid simply logging every time you appear. Chose carefully the scenes you want me to look at. Logs can be very formal – done in rows & columns on the computer, or very informal – scribbled down on the backs of old envelopes. I’ve seen it all! The only thing that matters is knowing where your scenes are for each source. Scenes, moments, looks – make note of all the good stuff. Make special note of scenes with other well-known actors or big stars. Reels are primarily made from strong, dialogue-driven scenes where you get a significant beat. But don’t ignore smart one-liners, sexy close ups or camera movements that suggest star power. Try to avoid choosing ensemble scenes where you are part of a crowd – or scenes about somebody else where you don’t get any dialogue – or anything else that doesn’t feature you in a principal fashion. Keep in mind that a great Reel is about strength of range. Even if you have a regular or recurring role on a series, we only want to see one or two scenes from this character before moving on to the next. And if we show two scenes, they had better be very different from each other. The only exception to this rule is when you have scenes from only the one series – the one character. In this case, we would create a package of “Best Moments From…” and portray the range of the character within the scope of the series.
For Video Files: Most computer media players like Windows Media Player, QuickTime Player, VLC, etc. will display either a time-code number or elapsed-time number somewhere near the bottom of the player window. Use any time format to locate your chosen scenes and write down where they appear.
For DVD Sources: Most DVD players will display numbers on the front of the machine that indicate elapsed time, as well as index and chapters numbers. If there is no number display on the machine itself, you should be able to use the DVD’s remote to put the numbers on-screen.
If you aren’t sure about some scene or moment – write it down anyway. The more options we have the better. And I will have strong input about what to use and what not to use.
Don’t worry about pre-editing the scenes in your head or creating the Reel on paper. I will make the majority of these decisions in consultation with you. The importance of Logging can’t be overstated because it allows me to locate your chosen scenes quickly and easily – saving time and money in the session. This is especially true if you have a lot of material or multiple episodes of a series. Failing to do your homework is the number one reason why sessions go longer than they should!
Do I need music?
Music is one of the critical, creative elements of persuasion and paying close attention to music scoring and mixing is one of the reasons why my Reels are better.
If you only have one or two characters for your Reel, you won’t likely need any additional music. I will add cinema underscoring to scenes that need it, but this is a normal part of any session. But if you have a wider range of scenes and characters, or additional moments from commercials, or lots of character looks, we will want to have the option of using music to create mini-trailers and bridge sequences. In these cases I always suggest to clients to bring in a selection of music from their own collection that might be suitable in a Reel. We are looking for instrumental passages from songs – upbeat, commercial feeling, propulsive. Something with a smile or a feel-good hook. Often, the top 8 or 16 bars of a song can provide a great track. Movie soundtracks are also helpful – and I can cut or loop any portion of a track that needs to be longer. Also – the theme music from your film or series credit roll can come in handy, so keep an ear out. If you don’t have any clue about music – don’t worry. I have built up a collection of music over the years that we can choose from if need be. Feel free to ask me about this at any time before your session.
How do I update my Reel in the future?
Regular maintenance on your Reel is important to keep it fresh. We can update the Reel anytime you want to add a new character or remove old material. This is usually a very simple process that doesn’t take much time at all. You will get a new Electronic Video File each time we update your Reel.
I offer FREE lifetime storage of your material to make the update process fast and easy. Ask me about this today.
Terms & Conditions of Booking
Sessions begin at the time booked, not the time you show up – no exceptions. I suggest you arrive at the studio a few minutes early. If you must cancel your booking you must call me before 4pm the day before so I can fill your spot from the waiting list. No-Show clients and last-minute cancellations are subject to $200.00 fee. Payment is due on the day, when the session is complete. Credit and special payment terms are available. Just ask.
Book me to edit your Demo Reel and see the difference for yourself.
Tired of editors who can’t capture your screen presence? Fed up with that unprofessional Reel your friend made for you? Making the classic mistakes doing it yourself? My Demo Reels book jobs for actors. Just ask my clients. Let me prove to you that it's time to switch editors.