On almost every film and video project I work on, actors ask me to get clips of their work for their reels. Actors are wise to constantly update their reels—or at least have the material on hand. However, it seems like there is a lot of misunderstanding on both sides about when and how clips can be provided. So I thought it might help actors and producers to clarify this. Also, I do have a secret way to pretty much ensure you’ll get all the clips you reasonably need.
“I just read an interview you gave some years ago. I wish I’d read it before I started making my own movie! I’m turning a short play into a film. It takes place in two rooms with five actors and we’re making it on a shoestring.
My question is this — What can I do to bring out the best in one of my actors who has less training/experience (…and it’s obvious)? I cast him too hastily, on someone’s recommendation, and now I’m not sleeping well. There is no turning back on my shooting schedule–my DP and lead are already committed to other projects. I know, stop whining and be glad I have the opportunity, right? Any ideas on what I can do to make the best out of this situation?”
– (name withheld by request)
Thanks for your question. I wish you the very best with your film. I know what you mean about getting a lot of people to come together on a shoestring (or no string at all) to make a film. I’ve been there. Many great films have been made that way, so you’re in good company.
One thing I’ve learned is that two elements make or break any film: script and performance. Just about everything else we do as filmmakers is about maximizing these. So if you know you’re going in that an actor in your cast really isn’t up to snuff, then you really aren’t serving your film by keeping him in it. Your best option is to recast the part immediately. I suspect that deep down, you know this is true but it’s hard to actually do. Tough! It’s your film–the hard decisions fall on you.