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Allison Meadows Gives Showreel Advice

Alternative Text By ,May 6, 2018

Welcome back!

You would’ve seen in PART 1 of this experiment, we took three Actors at varying stages of their careers and asked for their showreels.

Here was our fancy blog pic…

We then asked three of Sydney’s top Industry Professionals to review each showreel and then provide answers to the following 5 questions:

1. Did the opening of the Showreel attract your attention? Why/why not?
2. For how many seconds/minutes did the Showreel keep your attention?
3. Was the Showreel too long or too short?
4. Based on this Showreel, for what types of characters would you hire this actor? For which types of shows/productions?
5. Is there any other acting or industry advice you would offer this Actor based on the work exhibited in this Showreel?

Here are some of their answers:

Meet the first of our Industry Professionals

Allison Meadows | Mullinars Casting Consultants

The Results

Mia Barrett | Melbourne

1. Did the opening of the Showreel attract your attention? Why/why not?

ALLISON: 

Yes. I’d never met the actor and am always excited to see the work of actors I don’t know. If the reel hadn’t cut to the second scene when it did I might not have stayed as engaged with the reel but the second scene with the group of students shows the actor’s best work on the reel and that kept me engaged and interested to see more.

Why – Strong second scene, high production values (sound and lighting making it easy to see the actors work) and an interesting and unusual character.

Why not – The scene at 1.54 doesn’t work for me as a showreel piece, it’s too esoteric and doesn’t really demonstrate the actors work in a way that would help me decide if she was suitable for a role I was casting.

I would suggest putting the 2nd scene first as it’s the strongest scene on the reel, I would assume if I shared the reel with many of my clients (Directors and Producers) they would react most strongly to first scene (or if they’re still watching the final scene) on a reel which makes that scene the most important as a marketing tool for the actor.

2. For how many seconds/minutes did the Showreel keep your attention?

ALLISON:

I watched it right through, knowing it was only three minutes long would encourage me to watch through unless there was some very weak work or the quality of the material was so low that it was unwatchable.

3. Was the Showreel too long or too short?

ALLISON: 

As Goldilocks would say “just right”.

4. Based on this Showreel, for what types of characters would you hire this actor? For which types of shows/productions?

ALLISON:

I always keep an open mind to what roles an actor might be suitable for, I wouldn’t ever categorise an actor based on a three minute reel. I work very hard to never typecast or limit my vision when casting. Humans are unique, strange and unusual creatures, it would be arrogant of me to assume I know everything there is to know about an actor and limit their opportunities based on my experience of their work.

This reel would be enough for me to want to meet the actor in person and audition them for a range of work. The reel showed fairly limited character range which isn’t unusual for a young actor, it did suggest a gutsy strength and truth in the work which I always find interesting. 5. Is there any other acting or industry advice you would offer this Actor based on the work exhibited in this Showreel?

5. Is there any other acting or industry advice you would offer this Actor based on the work exhibited in this Showreel?

ALLISON: 

Try to add a totally contrasting scene to the reel when you have a suitable piece. Unfortunately many people will typecast you based on the material they have available to them and this reel shows a limited range of characters.

Try to always add work which has the highest production values and which allows the viewer to see you face and eyes and good audio.

Grab any opportunity you can to work with people you admire and respect, that will ensure you have the chance to extend yourself and learn from a wide range of professionals and hopefully provide you with a wider range of work for your reel.

This actor doesn’t have a Showcast or CN profile, that means they are currently “invisible” to the industry.

Steve Maresca | Sydney

1. Did the opening of the Showreel attract your attention? Why/why not?

ALLISON: 

Yes, but again I’d suggest flipping the first two scenes. Opening with “I just want to say I love you” straight down the barrel would be a more powerful opening and being kicked in the crutch by Malcolm McDowell is something no other actor can share on their reel, hook the viewer in quickly or you risk losing them.

I’m sure three different people will have three different opinions and the actor should consider all advice when deciding what to do with his reel.

2. For how many seconds/minutes did the Showreel keep your attention?

ALLISON:

Again I watched it right through because I know the actor and like his work so was keen to see his reel. The variation and quality of the work made it enjoyable to watch and offered me the opportunity to review my understanding of the actor’s work.

3. Was the Showreel too long or too short?

ALLISON:

Too long, cut the black and white scene and the montage they don’t show anything I can use as a casting Director. The montage is dated and a waste of time for the viewer.

4. Based on this Showreel, for what types of characters would you hire this actor? For which types of shows/productions?

ALLISON:

See notes on Showreel 1

5. Is there any other acting or industry advice you would offer this Actor based on the work exhibited in this Showreel?

ALLISON:

My only concern was titled as Showreel 2015, does the actor not have any material from the past three years worth including? I’d recommend a quick refresh and update and if you’re going to title the reel with a year be sure to update the title every year, even if you have no new material as it avoids the viewer thinking you’ve done nothing of note for three years.

Rowan Howard | Brisbane

1. Did the opening of the Showreel attract your attention? Why/why not?

ALLISON:

Yes, it’s a strong opening scene with good production value which makes it easy to watch. As with reel 2, I know this actor’s work and was interested to see the reel to get a better picture of his range which the reel provided.

2. For how many seconds/minutes did the Showreel keep your attention?

ALLISON: 

3.27 seconds. I was going to suggest the 2nd scene is long for a reel and somewhat one note but it’s a strong contrast and shows vulnerability for the actor which is important. I would imagine anyone watching the reel who was very busy and trying to get a quick sense of the actor would probably fast forward over that scene (And he might risk them switching it off and moving to the next reel they had to review), if it could be edited to focus on the second half of the scene only, that might be worth considering.

The headshot image and generic Apple Mac editing of the first shot is dated and could be improved. The actor shows much more versatility than the headshot suggests, I’d recommend removing the headshot to avoid anyone making an instant judgement about his character.

3. Was the Showreel too long or too short?

ALLISON: 

Just right.

4. Based on this Showreel, for what types of characters would you hire this actor? For which types of shows/productions?

ALLISON: 

See Reel 1

5. Is there any other acting or industry advice you would offer this Actor based on the work exhibited in this Showreel?

ALLISON: 

On the notes that came with the actors reel it says he’s based in Qld, he needs to be very capable at arranging self tests if he wants to continue to be considered for interstate work. There are limited opportunities for actors in QLD but we will happily accept self tests if our producers can work with the limitations of their QLD base. Many actors haven’t mastered the art of a good self test and we’d recommend anyone relying on self testing does so as a top priority

It’s even more important when living interstate that his reel is current the very best quality possible. We can see past a lower quality reel if we know we can bring the actor in to a casting in our Sydney or Melbourne offices with very little notice.

We then asked the Industry Professionals GENERAL QUESTIONS about Actor Showreels:

Q: What is the ideal length for a Showreel?

ALLISON: Approximately 3 – 4 minutes if you have a solid range of material. A strong and well produced 1 minute scene on your Showcast and Casting Networks profile is better than nothing at all. 1 terrible one minute scene is NOT.

Good lighting, strong sight-lines and good audio is essential.

 Q: What do you look for in a Showreel?

ALLISON: Honesty, range, versatility and examples of professional experience where the actor is the main focus of the scene (see below re Cate Blanchett). If the actor has been working for many years we like to see recent work, try to avoid scenes that were obviously shot ten or more years ago.

Q: On average, how long would you say you view a Showreel?

ALLISON: As long as I find the work interesting but much longer than 3 – 4 minutes and I’d probably move on unless it was incredibly engaging and varied or if the actor was unavailable to test and I was really working to get them considered for a role. It really depends on what I’m doing and how busy I am, if I don’t have any major projects I’m focused on I have more time to review reels.

Q: Should Headshots and Title cards be included at the beginning or end of a showreel?

ALLISON: Title card and contact details at the end – yes. If the reel is titled with the actors name there is no need for it to be at the front of the reel but it is a clean quick start to a reel as per Reel 1.

Headshot – no. The greatest reference we have at Mullinars is the shots we take of the actor every time they audition, they show the actor exactly as they are on the day, they’re not touched up and they’re current. I have been known to do a quick facebook stalk if the headshot is too touched up or perfect. We can source the actor’s professional headshots on their Showcast and CN profiles, we don’t headshots on a reel.

Montage and High pumping music tracks are out; they don’t help us to review the work.

Long scenes – It all depends on the work. If there is a particularly strong scene (or one which was highly relevant to the project I was casting) and I wanted to see more I would seek out the project or ask for more material from the actor or agent. Actors can also use the facility on Showcast to link to work from a particular projects in their bio (CREDIT CLIPS), we can see there is a link and would know that leads to longer scenes rather than a compilation showreel.

Q: Is it best to try and showcase each genre on separate Showreel? For example, have a comedy reel, a drama reel and a character reel?

ALLISON: Try to show your best work, if that means adding a low quality piece for the sake of versatility, I’d recommend against it. If the actor has the option to include a range of work and their reel can demonstrate versatility that will be the strongest marketing tool.

It’s all about you! Don’t include a piece that has 98% focus on another actor just because they’re high profile, I don’t need to see three minutes of Cate Blanchett and ten seconds of you to prove you once worked with Cate Blanchett.

Q: Is it OK for talent to send you unsolicited Showreels?

ALLISON: Reels, updates and invitations to shows or to view your work in a filmor TV series should come via your agent. Freelance actors are welcome to submit reels directly, all details about how to contact us are on the Mullinars web page.

FINAL NOTE FROM ALLISON

“Actors need an up to date Casting Networks and Showcast profile, we use both every day (and often night, much casting happens late at night once the phone has stopped ringing, if you have no profile and no reel and I’m trying to make lists at midnight, I might not think of you).

Your profile ideally should include a reel. We have cast many small roles by compiling a shortlist of profiles and reels to share with our clients to then select who they’d like to cast. It happens in film and television work more often than actors realise.

Many actors have missed out on roles because when we opened their Showcast page and found they didn’t have a reel we have to remove them from the shortlist because our clients only want to see profiles with reels.

I appreciate making a reel isn’t easy, particularly if you’re just starting out and don’t have any professional experience. Consider going without a bought coffee or two, definitely ditch the ciggies and start saving up to get a reel made. If that’s really not an option in the foreseeable future consider putting together something with some actor friends. All you need is a well lit room, clean uncluttered  backdrop and some good scripts (watch top quality films and TV and transcribe them if you have to) and good quality audio and you should be able to put together a couple of self test style scenes to showcase your work.

Good luck, we look forward to seeing you soon at Mullinars in Sydney or Melbourne.”

Allison Meadows
Casting Director
Mullinars Casting

Since posting this article, both Mia and Steve have updated their showreels based on the feedback they received.

Enjoy…

 

 

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Author Nisrine Amine

Nisrine Amine is an actor, writer, producer and Creative Director at PAC. She's appeared on television shows such as Here Come The Habibs, Janet King, Deadly Women and can be seen in the upcoming feature film, Slam. Her short film Apricot will screen on ABC iview in 2018.Learn about Nisrine's vision for PAC here.

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