What most screen actors now realise is that a showreel is integral to their careers. But too many are making the kind of reels that became extinct years ago. As showreels became commonplace, the rules quietly changed. Here are 5 things to know before putting together your next reel.
1. Your Acting Became More Important Than Anything Else.
Used to be that a reel was about showing you had credits. You’d prove your worth by showing yourself next to TV stars. Back when not everyone had a showreel (maybe three years ago), just showing you’d been on an episode of ‘Birds of a Feather’ was enough to show you’re a professional. But now everyone has a reel, and the appearance on a bad TV show makes little impact. Now, what makes an impact, is good acting. In the rush to get a memorable, edgy reel – those who are going for snappy edits and big graphics are getting left behind. The key to a good showreel is good acting.
2. The Montage Died.
If you think shots of you from different projects to the tune of Pharrell Williams is a good or an original idea, you’re crazy. A montage tells us NOTHING that we need to know. I meet a lot of actresses who want a montage because their footage shows lots of different hairstyles, but what does anyone care? For the most part, casting directors are intelligent enough to know that women can do different things with their hair, they don’t need the montage to explain it.
What is more powerful — An opening 25 seconds of clips and crossfades, or of you ACTING? You got into this line of work because you wanted to move people with your performances. So do that, and leave the montages behind.
3. They Got Shorter.
There should be no filler on your showreel. No wasted time. Show them great acting and then finish up. I know GREAT actors who have two minute reels, and bad actors who have four minute reels. What does that tell you? Use your strongest stuff then ditch the rest.
4. The Showreel from Scratch Became Acceptable
Here’s how to make a bad showreel from scratch: Take scripts from produced TV shows/films, and then film them with a showreel company in a bland studio setting. There are countless examples of this online, many of your friends have probably done them – they do nothing for your career.
Here’s how to make a good showreel from scratch: Work with a passionate writer/director or company who will craft scenes that NAIL your casting type. A good showreel from scratch can literally transform a career – you go from having no footage one week, to having a full reel the next. Why is this good? Because you can finally show people WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU CAN DO! But make sure the scripts are ORIGINAL!
5. Your Casting Range Got Smaller
If you’re trying to cover all the bases on a reel, you’re doing it wrong. No actor can do everything. And even if you can, you need to hide that fact from your reel. Why? Because casting directors have a tough job. They need to find the right person who can fit precisely into their project. Your reel needs to tick their boxes, it needs to do exactly what they need for their project. I know I know, you want to show your creative genius, you want to show your range. That will come, in time, but for now, do what will get you work. What will get you work is specificity.