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Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

Are you making it easy or hard for a casting director to give you an audition?

Last week I was prepping a job where I needed to look at reels in order to choose talent.  The breakdown read, “only talent with reels can be considered for this job.  Please submit with a reel.”

Let’s first look at why a casting director would have to see a reel.  Number one reason is, we actually want to see you act. For on-camera casting it’s “now” to want to see something live/moving as opposed to a piece of paper.  I also cast many voice-overs with actors who have never done them before and I can hear actor’s voices and what type of person the voice portrays by watching the reel.

The days of you depending on your photo and resume alone is far gone.  That being said, your photo and resume are very important and I am not suggesting in anyway that that part of the process will or should be eliminated.  Recognizing that you might not have a body of work yet, you can get film on yourself by doing student films.  There are quite a number of film departments in colleges in and around LA. You might not have a reel and let’s be realistic, not everyone has the qualifications for every job.

While casting this particular job, it was astounding to me that many talent had a rich resume of film and television credits, but yet did not have a reel attached to their profile.  My office got in touch with each agent who in turn had to get in touch with the talent to find out yes, they had something on YouTube, or yes, they had a website with their reel on it, or yes, they had a separate link …..“somewhere”.  Why do these actors think having a casting director chase after seeing their work is advantageous to them?  I can assure you it is not.  I filled up my casting session with lots of great choices of people whose work I could watch in the amount of time I was given to prep this job.

Exhausted and exasperated from the chase, I could only shake my head and come to the conclusion that perhaps many actors don’t realize the disadvantage they are putting themselves in by not having their package complete.

The complete package is:

  • A great photo – reveling personality
  • A well put together resume – well organized
  • A reel of some sort as part of your presentation package. The reel should be attached to your breakdown submission.

A hint about a good reel.  We are given very little time to sort through a lot of submissions.  I would highly suggest you cut out the montage of clips of you romping around with nice music.  I am not interested in hearing music and watching silent clips of you in different scenes.  I have asked for your reel to see your acting; to hear your words.  The presentation of music and clips is outdated.

Bravo to talent who know how to put themselves in the most advantageous position…..and to those who will be reorganizing a few things to stay competitive.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”