How To Make A Portfolio For Acting? (Step By Step Guide)

An acting portfolio is your ticket to auditions. It helps you audition for the different parts. But if you are new to acting, how to make a portfolio for acting. 

To make a portfolio for acting you must have an acting resume, demo reel, introduction clips, headshots, and an audition clip.  

Here I am going to give a detailed idea of how to make all these things in step-by-step so that you have the best-looking portfolio possible.

How To Make A Portfolio For Acting?

I am going to describe all the elements of the portfolio in detail including the purpose, how do you make one for yourself, what you should include in it and how you send it. So let’s start.

Build character worksheet

1. Acting Resume

When you meet a new person, you need to know the person before you start with business talks. The same way the acting resume tells the casting agent or director who you are as a person and as an actor before they consider you for the gig.

Before I go into how to make an acting resume, let me tell acting resume won’t get you gigs, it’s just a collection of your personal information. However, it will let casting people know whether you are fit for the role or not. 

How? You will learn that when you make a resume.

How do you make an acting resume?

Acting a resume is similar to any resume you make for work. It has to have your basic information like name, age, and contact information but it should also include physical details like height, weight, ethnicity, hair color, eye color, etc. 

The physical details are crucial because the casting agent will sort actors based on these details before they consider anyone for the audition. 

Casting agents get detailed guidelines from producers or directors on what kind of actor they are looking for the characters. 

In addition to this basic information, you need to include your educational background. If you have trained somewhere as an actor, be it acting school, studio theater, or personal coaching, you must mention it.  

Of course, you need to add some acting experience to your resume. You can completely omit it if you have no experience. But if you have some, even if it is local theater or school play mention it. 

Lastly, mention extra skills that you have like horse riding, martial arts, dance, singing, etc. Sometimes few gigs do require other skills. It is wise to mention them.

How To compile the information on a resume?

Compile all the information in a scannable format. You can either make your own resume on MS Word or you can buy a professional-looking resume template that you can fill. 

You need to have both soft and hard copies of the acting resume as you will be sending your portfolio digitally as well as physically. 

2. Demo Reel

A demo reel is a great tool to land acting gigs. With a demo reel, you can showcase your skill as an actor. 

What to include in a demo reel?

There is no perfect way to make a demo reel.  You can compile different types of scenes. I suggest showing all kinds of emotions like sad, anger, happiness, etc. Also, play contrasting characters so that casting people can see your range. 

What should be the length of the demo reel?

The length of the demo reel should not exceed more than 3 minutes. 

Also, the length of the clip that you use in the reel should be around 15 to 20 seconds only. I suggest compiling around 6-8 different clips in a demo reel. 

How to make a demo reel?

A demo reel is a compilation of 6-8 scenes, you will have to prepare and shoot different scenes with proper costume, location, and extras. 

You should collaborate with the director and writer friends. Be part of their independent projects. This way you will have free clips for the demo reel. 

You can also use the clip from a gig that you have done. 

Compile all clips into a nice-looking video with help of a good editor. If you have a budget hire someone or take collaborate with a young editor who is looking for work. 

3. Introduction Clips

In addition to demo reel clips, one more thing you will have to shoot is the introduction clip. It is nothing but a self-tape of your introduction. 

It is like a resume but in video form. 

The purpose of the video is to show who you are, how to contact you, and how do you carry yourself. Also, the introduction clip shows what you look like and what kind of voice you have. It even shows your ethnicity. 

Just by seeing your introduction clip a casting agent or director can decide if you are fit for the character or not. 

What to Include in An Introduction Clip?

As I mentioned earlier it is just like a video resume, all you have to include is your name, age, height, ethnicity, any experience, other talents, and contact. 

How Do You Make An Introduction Clip?

Unlike demo reels, you don’t need elaborate shooting equipment, all you need is nice camera with a tripod and clear background. 

You can even shoot it with your iPhone. It is more than enough.

The only thing you have to make sure of is that, the shot you take should be mid-close with your face perfectly visible, and the voice you record should be clear. If required use a good quality microphone with a camera. 

Also Read: How To Introduce Yourself In An Audition?

4. Headshots

With the digital age, the importance of headshots may have been reduced but they still hold their relevance. 

Sometimes casting people just want to go through your photos quickly before they call you for an audition or look at your demo reel etc. 

A headshot is a mere close-up photo of your face and it shows what you look like. 

How You Make An Acting Headshot?

There are two types of acting headshots or photos. 

  • Candid
  • Professional

A candid photo is something that is taken while you are doing something. You are not looking at the camera directly. 

Sometimes casting directors will ask for unfiltered candid photos instead of headshots. 

You don’t have to prepare and shoot candid photos separately. You can use some of the photos that you have of yourself on your phone.

As far as the professional headshot is concerned, you must get your headshot done in a professional environment. 

You can either hire a photographer who specializes in headshots or get a friend who is good with cameras or aspire to become a photographer.

Photos here will be different from the candid photos because you will be looking directly at the camera.

These headshots can be black and white or colored. It depends on the requirement. 

Also, Read: How To Take Acting Headshots At Home? (Step by Step Guide)

5. Self-Tape Auditions

Self-tape is a crucial part of auditions. This is what shows your acting ability. 

Many actors have landed huge roles due to great self-tape auditions

A self-tape audition is an audition that you shoot by yourself. You either get a script from the casting agent or you choose your own script. 

How Do You Make A Self-Tape?

The first requirement of the self-tape is the script. If you need to send the tape for a specific role, you can ask for the script from the casting agency. 

Once you have the script, start preparing for it.

Also Read: How To Get Into Character When There Is No Time?

You need to understand the character and script before you perform. 

You can follow the link mentioned above to create the character if there is no time. And if you have ample time, you can try out my 100 questions to build a character worksheet that has all the necessary questions to build the living and breathing character.

Usually, you will get two types of scripts. Either you will get a monologue or a short scene that includes one or two characters. 

Self-tapping a monologue won’t be an issue but when it is a scene with two other characters you will need another actor to read with you. 

Also Read: Three Best Ways To Self Tape Audition Without A Reader

You can ask anyone you know to read the other parts for you. As the camera will be on you and not the other actor, it can be anyone. It’s not necessary to have another actor. 

As for shooting the audition, you can use any camera that captures quality images and audio. 

You can use a simple DSLR or an iPhone to shoot the audition. If it’s a monologue keep a mid-close shot of yourself but if it’s a scene, you can ask any cinematographer friend to help you with shooting. 

However, if you are shooting by yourself you can keep the steady mid-close shot and do the scene with a reader. 

Most importantly, use a high-quality microphone because low-quality audio will diminish your performance. 

You will have to shoot your self-tape for every new audition so it is wise to keep some basic equipment with you. 

You must have equipment like a camera, camera stand, microphone, basic lights, and plain background. 

When you are making self-tape for an audition try to shoot at least a couple of variations of the same scene. And always follow the audition requirement from the casting agency while preparing for the audition.

Also Read: How To Send Auditions To Casting Directors?

6. Acting Website

Actors often ignore the power of the internet when looking for work. In this age, digital presence is like building a brand. 

Your portfolio needs to have a place on the internet where everyone can see your work or your skills. 

The best way to do that is by making an acting website. With the help website, you can showcase different videos, photos, and credits in one place. 

How Do You Make An Acting Website?

You don’t have to be a coder to make a website with user-friendly websites like webforactors.com you can make a website within a few clicks. 

Also Read: Three Methods To Make Actor Website

If you want a budget-friendly option to make a website I suggest getting a domain and WordPress hosting to make a website. However, you will have to have some working knowledge of WordPress. 

Whenever you share your actor profile online, you should always send the link to your website. 

With a single link, you will be able to share your whole profile with the casting agency. Also, the casting people will be able to see your whole profile in one place. 

Final Thought

I have tried to provide you with the best possible information from my experience and what I have learned from other experienced actors. I am sure you will have a great portfolio if you follow my guide to making a portfolio for acting.