Over the past year I've been digging through YouTube and Vimeo looking for reels. Trying to figure out what's good quality what's just plain horrible. I focused most of my research for https://reels.link, but during my search I've come across a lot of self-tapes and some of these self-tapes came out better than the actual samples from a film. One thing is for sure, if you are planning to use those for casting purposes, the rules of reel submission still apply. Here's my two cents.
Early bird gets the worm!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You've heard it time and time again, but I will keep saying it over and over. In this industry everyone is on a tight deadline. If a casting director is telling you the deadline is in 3 days and you wait till the last moment to submit your reel or self-tape, you'll be so far down on that pile, the chances are that no one will even watch it. Send it ASAP. Yes, I used the word ASAP despite of how much I hate using it. Just do it. Our system makes it easy. Upload what you need to upload to your site, and then toggle the reel option. Bam, now send them your reels.link link. Done!
Don't waste a casting director's time.
If you get right into the action in your reel, good for you. If your reel is padded with other actor's performances, trim it now! If you are trying to showcase more than one reel, or more than one skill using multiple self-tape takes, add jump-to points in the video so that the casting director can navigate to different sections of the video.
Consider Vimeo over YouTube.
This is a personal choice, but Vimeo allows people to download the video. YouTube does not. Perhaps casting directors might have access to the right tools because they do it so often, but perhaps they just won't care. If they see it's a Vimeo video and they want to share a file or put it in a folder on their computer, it's just two clicks away. We are also currently working on extracting YouTube videos just to alleviate that problem. Perhaps by the time you're reading this we might have already done that.
Self-tape specific note:
If the sides include sections where your character is not speaking, don't skip over it unless you are specifically told to do so. Respond to other actors' lines. It may be imperative for the casting director to see your reactions and responses. If you don't have someone to read the lines with you, hire someone online or go to https://www.gooffbook.com - we are currently developing AWS (amazon) implementation of the text reader that sounds pretty darn decent.
Stage directions on the other hand should be omitted. Leave something to the imagination. ;)