Demo Reel Tips

Developing your Scene Premise

Everything we produce is written specifically for each individual client, based on their own casting. The way that we arrive at that really specific writing is: we have you do a little homework on your end – nothing scary or intimidating, but we encourage you to speak with representation first and foremost. If you’re doing this to get representation, then talk with teachers, mentors, coaches – people who can help you get specific with your casting.  What we’ll need eventually, and it’s totally fine if you don’t have it now, is a simple premise line for each scene.

A premise line consists of THREE basic components:

  • The character
  • The situation that character is in
  • And who you’re talking to

I’ll give you an example. Let’s say young mom is your casting. Rather than saying, “Write me a dramatic young mom scene,” – that’s so general.

You could give us a premise line such as:

Young mom telling her 4 year-old daughter why daddy’s never coming home again because he got killed in Afghanistan.

Or, even more succinctly:

Hotshot lawyer tells opposing counsel they’re going to lose the case.


So now we have an idea of what you’re really trying to showcase. You can also tell us the genre that scene falls under, and then tell us if there’s a certain show that that scene should emulate or feel like.  Every show has its own tone – Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice feel one way, which is different than House, which is different than Mercy, etc. Or if it’s a film actor that you liken yourself to, which actor IN WHICH FILM since they’re all so different from project to project.

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About the Author:

Retta Putignano is partner and head writer of Create Your Reel (CYR), the Los Angeles-based demo reel production company, which writes, shoots, and edits custom footage for actor demo reels. Since launching in 2009, CYR has created reels for more than 800 clients. CYR was voted “Best Demo Reel Producer” by the Backstage Readers Choice Awards, and is happy to continue serving Los Angeles talent and the many actors who have flown in from all over the globe to shoot with them. Follow Create Your Reel on Facebook, Twitter @CreateYourReel, and at www.createyourreel.com. Originally from Chicago, Retta is also an actor, producer, and graduate of the Second City Chicago Conservatory. She has appeared in more than 20 short films and three features. One film earned the Best Drama Award from the Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences. She has been a writing mentor for nine years with the Los Angeles-based non-profit www.WriteGirl.org, and her work has been published for as many years in their award-winning anthologies. Follow Retta on Twitter @RettaPutignano.