What is a showreel?
It is a consolidated video clip of your acting work.
It a collection of your best acting bits.
It is a showcase of your acting style and range.
What kinds of scenes are included in acting showreels?
Essentially, showreels are made up of two kinds of scenes – monologues (acting solo in a scene) and two-handers (where you are acting opposite another actor in the scene).
These scenes can come from film, television, or commercial work.
How long should a showreel be?
Average of 3 minutes.
Why do I need a showreel?
Casting Directors want to hire ‘actors’, otherwise known as ‘people who act’. If they see examples of you ‘acting’ (say, on a showreel) they may be more inclined to call you in for an audition because they know what you look like and sound like and how you change characters and react to fellow actors in scenes and so on and so forth.
Isn’t a headshot enough?
No. Unless you want your future roles to only be ‘frozen person smiling in photograph’, Casting Directors need to see you moving and in action.
(But, if you did want a headshot, check this list out).
How do I put a showreel together?
1 – Drag all of your acting work files into one place (this may be in IMovie or another editing software).
2 – Watch all of this acting work.
3 – Pick the bits from each one that highlight your acting talent and your range of characters, emotions and acting choices. A common selection might include: dramatic, professional, vulnerable, feisty, playful, flirty, authoritative, comedic, submissive etc.
4 – Once you’ve made this selection, and you’ve ordered them in an interesting and exciting way (note: always put a show-stopping scene at the start) add a title card (a slide that has your name on it) at the beginning or end.
Note: Don’t worry about putting a fancy intro at the beginning with a montage of your face and fancy instrumental music in the background. Casting Directors have limited time – let them see your acting straight off the bat. In other words, let the showreel start with you speaking in a scene, no fussing around.
My name is Bob. I don’t have any acting work on tape.
Hi Random Case-Study Identity Bob. Don’t fret. You have 3 options in this case:
1 – OPTION PATIENCE:
Wait till you get some acting work under your belt. This may be a future short film or a TVC or maybe a role on television. Then you can piece together all of these clips and create a showreel out of them.
2 – OPTION TAKE MATTERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS:
1 – Pick three scenes from TV or film that reflect who you might like to play on screen (make sure the scenes are not too well-known because you don’t want to be compared to the original actors portraying those characters). Alternatively, you might write some of your own scenes or source them online.
2 – Learn your lines, rehearse and then gather your actor mates. Get them to act opposite you.
3 – Gather your camera mates. Get them to film you.
4 – Put all of those filmed scenes together on iMovie or another editing software and voila…you have a showreel.
Tips: The quality of the filming doesn’t have to be amazing but make sure that at least the light is good and you can be heard. And of course, make sure that the quality of the acting is top-notch. Invest in an acting coach or rehearsal time to make sure that when it comes time to filming, you are right there. In the zone.
3- OPTION LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS:
There are many companies out there that you can pay to take care of business. Some can work with what you’ve got and help you mash it all together; others can write scenes for you from scratch and film these scenes. Do your research!
What do I do with my showreel once it’s done?
> Upload it to your acting profiles – Showcast, Casting Networks, IMDB, StarNow etc
> Send it to your agent (if you have one) and they will store it in your file.
> Email it to prospective Acting Agents if you’re seeking representation.
> Upload it to your website or social media channels.
> Store it on your computer until a random audition pops up and they ask if you have a showreel.
With all of that information, you should now be ready to tackle the showreel dilemma with confidence. Ultimately, if you have the right attitude and good timing, you’ll get work with or without a showreel. But, it’s always a very smart idea to be prepared. Good luck!