Your Marketing Materials are the items you use to sell yourself as an actor. These items need to speak for you when you are not in front of the casting director or agent. These materials include your headshot, resume, postcards, demo discs and reels. An agent, casting director or producer will make judgments regarding your professionalism, attitude and appropriateness for the role by what they see in these materials. While the ultimate decision to book or sign someone may rest with the audition and interview, many actors are eliminated from consideration by the quality of the materials that use to represent themselves. Changing styles and increasing levels of success will inform the choices you make regarding your marketing tools but a few ground rules will always apply and help guide you toward making the best choices.
Your headshot must really look like you and project the part of your personality that is most castable. If you are usually called in for geeky roles do not waste money on producing a sexy, upscale shot. If you have leading and character role credits on your resume considering having both character and legal shots reprinted. Remember that the look you use and personality you project in your headshot must be a look you can recreate and personality that comes through at auditions and interviews. If that does not happen then you've wasted your time and money, no matter how great the pictures or how much the photographer and your friends like them. Resumes are a focused synopsis of your credits and training. That synopsis should focus the reader to the markets or types that you would be most successful in booking. A resume should never include everything that you've done. Time, success, physical changes and maturity will tell you what credits to remove and when. The look of your resume should reflect your personality, style and type through the use of additional pictures and graphic design. Your name, phone number and picture at the top should create a logo that is also used on letterhead and any other materials it will fit on.
The layout should follow the standard resume format and it's a good idea to leave enough empty space on the sides or bottom so that credits are not smudged when the document is handled. Your headshot and resume are an advertisement for you; If you would not publish this "ad" in a magazine do not send it out to industry. Postcards are a necessary part of your marketing package. They keep your name and face in the mind of agents and CD's. Because they're smaller and sent out frequently to your contact list, you need to use several different shots or looks to avoid repetition. You can use the fun shots that would not be appropriate for 8×10's but do not stray from the Castable Type (TM) you've been marketing.
There's never much room on postcards to write messages so always keep it accomplice oriented: "I just booked a commercial for. …" or "I was called back for …. and am currently in rehearsal for …". Try printing your message on large sized labels and using that on the postcard so that it's easily read. Demo reels for voice overs and acting reels must be professionally produced and edited. Always check each tape for glitches after having them reproduced and make sure that they are cued before distributing them. A demo should be one minute long and a reel two minutes long. That's it. Start with the best clip first – they may never go past it – and do not pad with transitional music or graphics. You should always have j cards with your headshot and logo included with each disc or reel. Never mention that you have a reel or demo available if you do not and never go to an interview without a copy to leave with the agent or CD if requested.