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Revamp Your Hosting Reel - With Mark Turner of Abrams Artists Agency

Written by: Kelly Calabrese 

Hello! And welcome to Revamp Your Hosting Reel.

I'm your writer, Kelly Calabrese. Today, I'll be revealing all the nitty-gritty details about what agents look for in hosting reels with insight from our expert - agent, Mark Turner.

As part of a visionary team in the the Host/Broadcast Division of Abrams Artists Agency, Mark Turner represents quality hosts, anchors and reporters for all areas of reality based television in both NY & LA with a specialization in pitching and packaging TV shows.

By the end of today's article, NYCastings members will have all the knowledge they need to make or make-over their hosting reels.

So, let's get started! Tell me Mark...

Q: What are your overall expectations when viewing a hosting reel in terms of content, length, variety...

As a general rule, it has to show off a person, their personality. A good demo reel can be three minutes in length, with different looks, edited in a way that you are not on one segment too long. And, if someone is an expert, make sure you are showcasing your knowledge in your area of expertise. But most important, is personality. The reel should grab the viewer right off the bat.

Q: How long should each segment be?

Pretty quick. I wouldn't stay on any one clip for more than ten seconds. To clarify, this is for hosting reels, not news reels. News reels are a different story. For hosting reels, I would not have an interview go on for a minute straight. You can do more than ten seconds of an interview, but cut it up where you see bits and pieces rather the whole interview straight.

Q: You mentioned having "different looks" on the reel - What do you mean by that?

It means that the reel should show diversity. It can have an interview bit, a straight-to-the- camera bit, an in-the-field bit. Show different sides of who you are. It should be diverse in showing your qualities and attributes. It doesn't have to do with what you look like or wear. When you interview someone in a field - that is a look. Reading from a teleprompter- is a look. You should show all sides of your personality... being comedic, being serious. Be versatile.

Q: What stands out to you on a hosting reel?

I would use the term charisma. A sense of humor. You need to be a big personality without coming across as phony, or unnatural. Or else it looks forced.

Q: When watching a reel, how long does it take for you to spot the kind of charisma you want to represent?

Very quickly. Within the first 30 seconds.

Q: What are some common mistakes that one can avoid on a hosting reel?

I see people putting things on their hosting reel that shouldn't be there - like commercials or infomercials or something that looks really homemade. In today's world, the video has to look professional. It can't look like you made it in your basement.

Q: Since having a niche is important in hosting - How should a reel showcase a niche if the host has one?

If you are solely an expert, say someone is a scientist, then their reel should be solely about that. However, if someone has multiple areas of expertise, they should make it metered to that. So... If someone is a general host and also a real estate expert, they should make a general reel and a real estate specific reel. These days, we want to be as specific as possible.

Q: If a person has a niche and wants to become a host in it - does a self-made reel interest you even if the person as no actual hosting experience?

It does. And the reel doesn't have to be perfectly professional but it can't look so homemade.

Q: When creating a reel to specifically showcase a niche, can the reel have one sample clip /show or should it have several, quick moving segments as you mentioned earlier?

The model should be the same as for a hosting reel.

Q: If an actor has hosted for industrials, should they include that on the reel?

Truthfully, I don't do many industrials. That tends to be much more straight-laced. Infomercials don't usually showcase a lot of your personality. If someone sends me an industrial reel, it is not usable for getting most jobs. You might want to put some of your industrial work on your reel, if it shows a different side of your personality. But in general, industrials tend to be more on the serious side.

Q: Should a host keep in mind a target audience that they hope to host for?

I think you just want to be who you are. Be authentic.

Q: Any advice on how an actor can sharpen their hosting skills?

You can take classes to help you with interviewing and teleprompter, but hosting is something that you either have the personality for or you don't. It is hard to teach charisma. The best hosts are the ones who are most comfortable in their skin.

Q: Once a person peeks your interest with a reel, what should they expect when they meet with you?

They should be themselves. Have a conversation as opposed to an interview. Tell me who you are, what you do and have a realistic understanding of the types of shows you are right for. Never say, "I will do anything." Realize what your strengths are and tell me why you are right for certain shows.

Q: What types of hosts are trending right now?

Outdoors. Survivalist. Military. Therapists. Scientists. The auction collectable space. Therapy. Parenting. Tech.

Q: What does it take to break into entertainment, food or travel? The kind of hosting gigs that everyone seems to want to get into.

Well, that is the million dollar question. When you talk about fashion and food, those are crowded spaces. They have been done extensively. To break in, a lot of it is based on personality - what you have that is not already out there. And success. A major chef, who has written books and owns major restaurants, is going to go a lot further than someone who just graduated culinary school.

Q: How hands-on are you with your client's reels?

We don't create reels here. We advise as to what should and shouldn't be on one and refer hosts to editors.

Q: Do you watch non solicited reels?

I look at everything.

Q: How do you prefer to see hosting reels? Online, DVD?

Online links. Vimeo and YouTube are ideal

Q: What is the most rewarding part of representing hosts?

When someone works hard, is marketable, and I am able to book them on something - that is very rewarding. It makes me proud.

Well... I'm proud to share this advice with NYCastings!

Thank you so much for joining us, Mark.

For more info on Mark Turner and Abrams Artists Agency, check out

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