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Making a showreel might seem like a daunting task, but every actor needs one. So, where to start? Our complete guide will cover everything you need to know to make a standout showreel, including why it’s so important, what to include and where to upload it. Ready to get started?
Let’s begin with the basics, an actor’s showreel is a highlights reel of their best work. It’s the most effective way for casting directors to get a feel for your acting abilities. Years ago, showreels would be on CDs or USBs, but now thanks to technology, everything is online making it much easier to share and update your reel. We’ll reveal the best platforms to upload your showreel to later in the article.
You might be thinking, making a showreel seems like a lot of work, why is it so important? Well, a showreel is the quickest and easiest way for a casting director to see your acting skills and hopefully offer you work.
Here is our checklist of what to include in your acting showreel:
Start your reel with key information: your name and a headshot in a title sequence.
Then dive straight into your best scene. Casting directors rarely have a lot of time on their hands so place your best work first, so they’ll be gripped from the get-go, and won’t be able to move onto the next showreel easily.
Next, choose clips that represent your unique talent to make you stand out from others. Casting directors will be impressed with originality so pick the clips that will make you memorable. Try to include high-quality audio and visual where possible. Although make sure the content is strong too, even if something is shot in 4K, if your acting is weak then it’s a big no. Your showreel is showcasing you, not the filmmaker, so find a good balance.
One of the most important things to remember is that an excellent showreel should showcase a range of your acting abilities, so include contrasting clips and a variety of scenes to demonstrate this. For example, you could include a comedy clip after a sad scene or a character you played with an accent to show your versatility. However, remember you must be happy with it, never include anything for the sake of it.
Finally, at the end of the showreel, add your contact details, or your agents, if you have one.
Here is our checklist of what not to include in your acting showreel:
Remember, you’re making a showreel not a music video. Casting directors are looking out for your skills in front of the lens, not your music taste. Use appropriate showreel music if needed but avoid having music throughout the duration of the reel or lengthy transitions as this can be distracting.
Avoid using adverts you’ve featured in, in your reel. Often, commercials don’t show your stripped back raw acting talent. However, if you’d like to show your advert work, you could always send the casting director a link to show your ‘Additional Work’.
Keep your showreel fresh and up to date. It’s pointless including work from 15 years ago, because it won’t be a true representation of how you look and speak today.
Casting directors are very busy people, so keep your showreel concise to show off your best work, rather than clips, effects, or music just to fill the time. Your showreel should be no longer than three minutes in total, remember quality over quantity!
It’s recommended that you get your showreel edited by a professional. Although it will cost you, it’s a business investment and will hopefully help you gain lots of work as a result. See below for our recommended showreel companies. Nevertheless, if you’re on a budget or feel like you want to give it a try yourself, go for it. You could try and use iMovie (free on Macs) Premiere Pro or Adobe After Effects. If you want to find out more about how to create a showreel in After Effects head to the website.
There are plenty of acting showreel companies around, but our top picks include ActorsShowreel, Bespoke Reels and Killer Reels. Whether you need scenes shot or footage edited, these three highly regarded companies have got you covered.
For singing showreel companies, why not check out Singing Demos, Starbox and Slick Showreels. Each offers different services and will help your singing skills stand out.
If you’re looking for dance showreel companies have a look into Cinematic Showreels or Bridge In The Sky, they can help showcase your dancing ability with a polished and professional showreel.
Before you upload, make sure to do a final check that everything is correct and send it to a few friends or colleagues to get feedback, then once you’re happy, it’s time to upload. One of the most popular platforms to upload showreels to is Vimeo, as it has fewer adverts and distractions than YouTube, but both are fine.
It’s a good idea to add your details into the description box of the video so viewers can access them easily. Also, once it’s uploaded share it with the world for example on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, StarNow and Mandy.
There you have it, our complete guide on showreels for actors. We hope you feel equipped with the tools you need to make a superb showreel and we wish you all the best with your castings!
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