In this episode of Reel Stories with ReelCrafter, our co-founder Sam Hulick sits down with the talented L.A.-based singer and actor, Stuti Mandala. Discover how Stuti leverages ReelCrafter to create stunning audio-visual demos that leave a lasting impression on casting directors and booking agents. She’ll also share how our user-friendly reel builder fits perfectly into her electronic press kit and helps her keep track of her most popular audio tracks with our in-depth analytics.
The interview transcript below has been edited for clarity and readability.
Sam: Hey, this is Sam with ReelCrafter, and we are here today with Stuti Mandala. She is an actor, a singer and model, and writer. She does a lot of different things, and she also uses ReelCrafter, and we’re here to talk to her about her workflow. Thanks for joining us.
Stuti: Thanks, Sam. Thank you for having me.
Sam: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Stuti: As you mentioned, I am an actor and a singer. I was performing live for a couple of years up in San Francisco and then moved down to L.A. in 2019 to get a closer handle on film and TV. [And I] booked a role singing on screen to Jane Levy’s character in a show called Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist.
Sam: I’m curious — since you probably pitch for a lot of different types of gigs if you’re pitching for an acting gig versus as a vocalist, what are those types of people looking for in a demo reel in your experience?
Stuti: When it comes to an acting pitch, they want to see how you look. If they are specifically scouting for a music video, they want to see whether you can show emotions. It’s all about showing because you’re not speaking and you’re not singing in a music video, you’re showing. So they want to see if you can act without dialogue.
On the other hand, if somebody is scouting for on-screen singing talent, then it makes sense for me to share the clip, for instance, of me singing from Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. So they can see how the two come together.
And when it comes to simply audio clips, I’ve found that what people want to hear is just the best part of the song; they always want to hear the part that is most energetic. And so I can pick those sections using ReelCrafter. In fact, I can pick different parts of the same song.
So if I have a song that is stored on the ReelCrafter server, and let’s say that song has a section where I’m yodeling, it has a section where there is a long sustained cry, there might be a soft verse, and there might be a big bright chorus. So depending on who I’m pitching to, if I’m pitching to a nightclub in L.A. that is looking for folks who can sing R&B, then I want to send them the soft verse. If I am pitching to a choral group [and they want] to hear how a bright, loud soprano is going to fill the space, I want to send them that big bright chorus. And so you get the idea.
There’s different parts of a song that can appeal to different people depending on what they’re looking for and what I can do. With ReelCrafter I can pick different clips [from the same song] and put them into different playlists and send a custom [link] for that playlist off to the particular booking agent who’s looking for that kind of sound, and maybe attach a video that works along with that kind of sound as well.
Sam: Yeah, that’s really useful to be able to use the snippet editor to focus their attention because if an audio track starts off too understated, [and] it doesn’t grab their attention, they’re likely to skip it. And so it’s handy to be able to use the snippet editor to get to the point faster and to highlight different parts of the track as well, like you mentioned.
Stuti: Yeah, and because I get analytics of what they’re listening to, if there is a particular part of the song that they’re going back to or pausing at, I have the analytics that tell me that. So, for instance, if I’m talking to a booking agent in Vegas, and I send them a link to my playlist (my ReelCrafter playlist), if that booking agent is then sitting at their computer and they click on track two, I will get a notification saying that this booking agent has clicked on track two. And I will get a notification of how long they’ve listened to the track for, whether they have repeated it. It’s just very informative. It’s a very informative platform.
And on the other side, Sam, I love [that] I can showcase all my video clips, so on the one hand, a person can listen to the music, and on the other hand, they can see how I actually look on camera.
Sam: What were you doing to pitch for projects before you were using ReelCrafter?
Stuti: Before I was using ReelCrafter, I would have to send individual links to people. So I would send them individual YouTube links saying, “Hey, here are my music videos.” Or I would send them audio tracks, just MP3 files, and hope that they would feel comfortable downloading files from this strange email and leave it up to chance. So it was a mix of YouTube links, Vimeo links, and just MP3 files.
Sam: Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff to send in an email. And actually, people don’t like to have three or four links that they have to click into each time. They just want one link they can click [that] takes them to one page where they can listen to everything they need or watch any videos.
Stuti: Yeah, nobody wants multiple links, and the other thing that people are wary of is being asked to download unfamiliar links. But if I’m sending them to a ReelCrafter web page that looks as though it has been customized to their needs, that has a professional presentation, and lists all the clips there, with an option to download just the clip that they want to download, it shows the listener that I am receptive to their needs as well.
Sam: It sounds like when you’re pitching for performance-related projects, you’re probably putting video up front on the reel at the top and then audio kind of as a secondary.
Stuti: So as you can imagine, I have several needs when it comes to showcasing my portfolio. I have an audio component, and I have a visual component. On the audio side, I need to showcase clips from live performances, from recorded songs, and on the video side, I need to showcase clips both from any film and TV I might have done, live performances, and also music videos — because since I’m an actor, I’m hired by artists to appear in their music videos as well. I can even add notes to each clip. [Like,} “This was from here. This was from here”, etc.
In fact, I used to have a web page that was about voice within the template of my existing website, and I think I’m just going to switch over my entire voice page to the ReelCrafter Reel Builder page because you have provided the same functionality now for all your customers. I can arrange blocks and move text blocks and move image blocks and move audio and video blocks in whatever way. I want to create a very attractive presentation on a web page.
So I think I’m just going to do that, and maybe I’ll use that nifty QR feature that you just added. I’ll add that to my business cards because we’re all starting to shake hands and go to live events again. So I appreciate the fact that you’re innovating and you’re on top of providing new features to your customer base as we are getting back out there and we’re meeting people in the real world.
Sam: We were just at PMC ourselves in Los Angeles, and it feels kind of like things are back to normal, and people are comfortable going to conferences again.
So now you’re able to actually take a link to your reel and download a QR code and then print it on your business cards or posters, flyers, whatever you want to do. So that’ll be a great feature as the world kind of gets back to normal.
Stuti: Yes, fingers crossed.
Sam: Fingers crossed. Well, thanks for joining us today and taking the time to talk to us about what you do and how you use ReelCrafter. Thanks for joining us.
Stuti: Thank you so much, Sam.
Sam: Best of luck in all your pitches.
About Stuti Mandala
Stuti holds the rare distinction of being an on-camera singing talent, singing directly to series lead Jane Levy in the NBC TV pilot of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. A classically trained singer-songwriter in Western and Indian musical traditions, Stuti has performed on stage in the US, UK, India, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand, singing songs spanning seventeen languages and a variety of genres from pre-WWII era jazz to Bollywood.