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Actor Showreel Tips from a Casting Director

Showreels are becoming a bare necessity, and many casting directors will skip over actors who don’t have one. The quality of the showreel is therefore just as important as the quality of your headshot. Invest into a professional one, and be careful about what you put in: if you’ve mostly done soaps but are hoping to switch to Shakespeare then you’re better off leaving those clips out. If you don’t have much to put into your showreel then film yourself doing a monologue – most directors would rather have something than nothing to go on, and it shows initiative.

What Casting Directors say:

A professional showreel – dear God, the showreels I have had to sit through… if I am not impressed within 15 seconds I will turn it off! The biggest flaw in showreels is over acting; it helps to use a professional director if you are making something specifically for your showreel. Use it as an opportunity to demonstrate diversity. 95% of reels I receive are very poorly put together. They shouldn’t be too long, we just need a taste of your ability as an actor, the suitability for the role will be determined at the audition/screen test

If an actor really wants to be taken seriously (by us at least) then they should have the good sense to avoid show-reels unless they can show themselves in a good light. Some actors think that a show-reel with lots or shouting and swearing is ‘acting’, and we get ones where people think they’re funny just because they are rude or crude. I would far rather see someone brilliantly handling Shakespeare (2 or 3 short clips, preferably from real productions), & musical theatre (again short clips of a live show), and leave us wanting to
see more. Some people seem to be intent on purging their demons on a show-reel and that’s more like therapy then acting.

My main piece of advice would be that actors absolutely must have a showreel that is of a reasonable quality. Personally, I won’t consider an actor that doesn’t have a showreel.

A showreel – when so many apply we just don’t have the time to even consider those without (it is like its own CV – don’t have one can’t have done much)

For me, the thing that made it ‘easier’ to shortlist was a good variety of example material from actors. For example: a voice reel, actor shot, production photos and a video. This allows you to really build up a good image of what that individual is like both as a an artist and as a person. For me this is far more useful than pages and pages of credits from shows I don’t know and parts I’ve never heard of!