I have been working professionally with acting showreels for many years. I have always found them to be important. When I am casting a film, seeing reel footage is crucial. Especially now – the market for actors is more flooded than ever before. Who has the time to audition 80,000 actors? A CV is important, as is the headshot. But this game is about talent, it’s about what you do on screen.
The showreel is one of the best tools at your disposal for showcasing what you can do. But what should a showreel look like? And how much should you pay? Should you create a reel from scratch?
So many questions and no official answers. I am going to share everything that I have learned over the years as a showreel creator and editor, as well as a director of over twenty short films and web-videos.
Why Are You Getting A Showreel?
Most actors realise they need a showreel. But so often it’s treated as an afterthought. Something to get to at some point down the road. Projects are seen not as art, but as ‘reel material’, and when reels are finally done they are often hastily edited together by the actors themselves, or by a friend.
I think that the low priority actors often give to their showreels is a huge mistake.
Actors tend to have a curious attitude towards showreels. I find phrases like, “I’m doing the short film because it’s good reel material” to be quite jarring. To think of a showreel as just a thing where you act in a few different scenarios, with a few different emotions, is to really miss the point.
A film, a web-viral, a comedy sketch; whatever it is that you do — your goal as an actor is, surely, to connect with the audience. To have them resonate with who you are and what you do.
That almost never happens when you view projects simply as opportunities for reel material. And likewise, when a showreel is hacked together on iMovie by a non-editor, it often shows a lack of professionalism and interest in your own work.
That’s not always the case. Sometimes people who have no experience of editing put their own reels together, and it works extremely well. But that is a rarity!
So why are you getting a showreel? I think a showreel is about a journey. You as an actor, are at the point you’re at, wherever it is, on the long road to becoming a better artist. Your showreel is evidence of who you are at this moment in time. It shows us where you’ve come from, what you’ve achieved — and of course, what you look and sound like!
What Makes A Good Showreel?
Simple answer: Good acting.
The more experience I’ve had working with showreels, the more I have aimed for simplicity. My approach is to show the actor acting well in as many ways as I possibly can, in the shortest amount of time.
A short amount of time, because people’s attention spans are short, especially for showreels. People just want to glimpse. They want to click on random bits of your reel and see what you’re doing. Wherever they click, it needs to be good acting.
Montages are generally perceived to be a thing of the past, and should only be used in rare circumstances, if you think you have a valid reason for having one. But generally, people don’t want to see you walking in and out of different shots while a Justin Timberlake song plays — they want to see you act.
I have always worked to keep showreels under 3 minutes. I am beginning to work closer to 2 minutes. I think the more you can do to keep it short, the better.
A mistake that many showreels make, is to start with the newest material, or the one that has them acting alongside big name actors; and then they progressively get older and older material as the reel goes on. This is a HUGE mistake! People don’t want showreels in a linear fashion — they skip through them, they click on random bits. If there’s something from five years ago, that you’re not particularly proud of, it shouldn’t be on your reel.
Just like with a movie, there’s a mystical thing you need to make a showreel work. You can never guarantee them, but for me, these two ingredients are crucial.
We have to feel like we know the actor. That we care about them. Even if they are mostly playing evil characters. When we are casting for a role, we are also hoping to find a human being who we will get along with. Not only that but, as an actor; we want to relate to and empathise with your characters. If you can achieve this, we sense your quality as an actor.
On the one hand, a showreel is just a mixture of clips. And that works just fine, but I think the best showreels reach another level.
The human brain is programmed to enjoy stories. There’s no reason why a showreel shouldn’t aim to satisfy that need.
How you do this, I can’t precisely explain. When I edit showreels, I try to weave them together in a way that gives the viewer a sense of rhythm and continuity. This may be through repetition — be it through music or returning to the same film later in the reel.
Your showreel is your story. Wherever you’re at as an actor, your reel should show how you got there.
Should You Hire An Editor, Or Get Your Friend To Do It?
You could hire me to paint your house. And sure, how hard can it be — I put paint on the brush, then start painting, right? We could get away with it, maybe.
And editing — it’s just putting videos together and changing the order around, right? You could get away with that too probably?
It’s up to you. You may indeed get away with it. But do you want to ‘get away with it’, or do you want a professional to create the best reel possible?
I think that I am one of the best editors around when it comes to showreels. I’ve been invested in this world for a long time, and I care about it. I am good with the storytelling aspects, with decision making, and with making things flow. Other showreel editors are better with graphics, with jazzing things up — it’s all about finding who is right for you.
But I’d recommend getting someone with a proven track record, whose reels you have seen examples of and are impressed by.
It’s like anything else, there will always be people who are cheaper and people who are more experienced. You could get a film student to shoot your wedding, and he’s doing it practically for free — but twenty years from now, when you look back, maybe you’ll wish you’d hired the guy who remembered to film the wedding ring moment, and who knew how to position himself in the right place for the first dance, who could shoot it at the right angle.
Everyone has their price. Everyone is worth a certain value. I am very exact about what I charge and provide many examples to show what you’ll get. I’m not saying you should hire me, but it’s certainly worth hiring a person or service who can provide precisely what you need, at a fair price.
Should You Film Showreel Scenes From Scratch?
There are many services that do this badly. That is precisely why I was able to find a niche as a showreel creator. My background as a writer, director and editor; and my emphasis on fresh and unique content, it gave me an angle where I was able to do good work.
But I think you need to think very carefully before committing to a showreel from scratch.
Most of the well known services out there use material from films that have already been made (i.e. Shawshank Redemption, Closer, etc), or perhaps from plays. This is risky for many reasons.
Not so much because of copyright. I doubt Warner Brothers care what somebody is doing on a showreel — but creatively. If you try to do the Morgan Freeman role from Shawshank, you’re either imitating him, or trying to do your own thing. And really? You think you can do better than Morgan Freeman?
I think it is ESSENTIAL that you insist on ORIGINAL and UNIQUE content for your showreel. You want to work on material that has been written FOR YOU. That’s the only reason you should do a showreel from scratch; because someone or a service is genuinely interested in doing what is best for you.
Another problem with from-scratch-reels, is that they’re often filmed in film schools and studios; where nothing looks real. The sets look cheap, the background sound is hacked on; and you’re left with a pretty embarrassing scene. I won’t provide samples, because I think nearly every actor reading this will know exactly what I’m talking about.
The scenes in a showreel should feel like they come from real projects. Authenticity is such a key thing. I shoot showreel scenes in the same way and with the same care and attention that I would a comedy sketch or film project. If you get a showreel created, you need personal access to the director, you need to feel valued. You don’t just want to be shuffled onto a film set with a camera pointed at you.
So, should you get a showreel-from-scratch? Maybe. Look at different services. Find as many examples as you can and ask for references.
I’m sure there is much more I could say about showreels, but this is what came to mind at the particular time I say down to write this. If you have any questions, need any advice, or are interested in hiring my to work on your reel, you can email me at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter, @danieljohnsonuk
April 24, 2013
A friend said to me recently that she wished my showreel service was around when she started out as an actor, because it would have saved her having to do those 50 terrible short films that she did. I liked what she said, it fed my ego and it was something I would tell others in passing, as in, “my showreels are great and help you skip the nonsense!”
But then this began to jar in my mind, because those 50 bad short films are important. You need the experience of being in awful student films that never end up seeing the light of day. You need films where the writing sucks, the directing sucks, and yes; even your acting sucks.
A showreel shouldn’t be about skipping the hard work. A showreel from scratch isn’t a miracle, it’s just one of the many tools at your disposal.
While many actors have been very successful with the aid of showreels I’ve created, many haven’t. They think that a showreel will propel them further ahead, but in truth, the main thing that propels you ahead is experience, and attitude. You’re not entitled to work or opportunities as an artist. They tend to come along five years later than you expected, after you’ve paid your dues in so many more challenging ways than you expected.
I do a lot of acting showreels for performers who are fresh out of drama school, and I maintain that it’s a great tool – a perfect opportunity to show people who you are and what you’re about. In this hyper-competitive industry, where literally hundreds if not thousands of actors are chasing the same openings as you — a reel is an integral part of setting you apart.
A showreel I created in April 2013 for actress Laura Doyle.
There are many misconceptions about what a showreel-from-scratch is. This is probably because it’s a relatively new art. In fact, I may be the very first person to ever call in an art. For most, it’s the hacking together of a few scenes to make a reel. But for me, a reel is something very important for the actors involved and the writer/director, and there are many ways in which they can go wrong.
Some actors, mindful that they’re paying, and that it’s to show their talents; they feel the need to oversaturate the screen with themselves. More dialogue, more close-ups, less shots of the other actor. I understand these ideas and have, sometimes, bended to please the actors; but I believe it’s the wrong approach, because it’s ultimately false.
The key thing is to serve the scene. To serve the reel. To show you as an actor and artist in the most truthful and honest way possible. That will involve reaction shots of the other actor, and yes, even keeping their dialogue in. And while close-ups are indeed important, they are also just one of the many tools. There are times when a close-up can tell the story or help show us the character, but the same can be said for a wide shot, or a close up of a picture frame.
If you are going to get a showreel, yes; you want it to achieve those all important goals; help you get cast, help you get an agent, help you earn money. But on a more important level – you should use it as a tool to make you a better artist, to work with new writing, to work closely with a director, and to be a little bit closer to the creative person you are becoming.
March 19, 2013
Here is where I’ll explain the whole process from beginning to end. I am not a ‘showreel service’ like many of those out there. I am a writer/director/editor; with over ten years experience in the industry. I am actively producing my own projects consistently; in both the UK and New York (and anywhere else they’ll have me). As well as that; I create showreel content for actors.
To give you a taster of what I do, here is a reel of my reels from mid last year (there’ll be newer examples later in this blog post).
Because getting acting roles in the industry is, of course, hard. Getting any role is hard, as all of you actors will know. Getting the roles you really want, is even harder.
That’s where I come in. If you’re just starting out, or maybe you’re just out of drama school, I write scenes for you that capture all that fresh talent which you’ve not had the opportunity to showcase; yet. A showreel can get you seen by directors who are casting, it can get you the foot in the door with an agent.
Or if you’re already an experienced actor; I can help shift your image; show people that you can do something different to what everyone expects of you. Maybe you’re stuck in comedy when you want to be in serious dramas. Maybe you’re stuck in serious dramas when you desperately want to make people laugh.
Why work with me?
Because I love doing this! This isn’t one of those services where you roll in for ten minutes in a dull cold studio and action is yelled. This is a personal service that I am proud of. I will write scenes that are PERFECT for you. Either using actors you know or actors I access who want to be in fresh scenes; we put together great material.
Here are three examples of scenes I’ve directed for showreels.
How much does it cost?
The full showreel service is called ‘The Full Monty’ (don’t worry, no-one will be taking their clothes of). It costs £450. For that you get three scenes and a full showreel edit.
Or if you’re on a tighter budget and just want one fresh scene (like the examples above) it’s £150.
Full details of costings and what you get for your money you spend can be found HERE.
Custom made to suit you.
I’m open to mixing it up. Maybe instead of three scenes; you want five 25 second scenes. Or maybe two scenes and a bit of you singing, or dancing, or whatever it is that you’re after. That’s something we can discuss.
If you already have lots of footage and you only want a scene or two added to your reel — we can do that too, whatever works!
Below are some examples of showreels I’ve created. Some of them have scenes from other productions/TV shows — but all have at least two scenes directed by me. Of course, part of having a ‘showreel from scratch’ is you want to feel they’ve come from real projects, not showreel services. So I won’t tell you specifically what I did — although, in these reels; it’s most, and sometimes all of it. Feel free to ask me privately if you want to know specifically what scenes I created.
What are you waiting for? I sincerely believe I can help you as an actor. I am experienced writing for actors of all ages, genders and styles; and I am confident I can direct you, in some great scenes, that will help you get noticed. Rather than wait around for two years for a film school student to maybe some day give you footage from that film you did; let’s shoot something new right now, and let’s have it on your brand new showreel ready to release within a week.
March 14, 2013
1. Original Material.
This is the most important factor! I’ve seen showreel companies that rehash scenes from Shawshank Redemption, and it looks awful! And I’m sure you’re a good actor, and I’m sure you could be better than Morgan Freeman, but do you really want to go up against him in his best movie; armed with the help of a cheap looking prison set and a showreel director?
I’ve seen about fifty showreels that duplicate scenes from ‘Closer’, and it looks ridiculous! The actors don’t know whether to develop their own characters or to just recreate Jude Law and Natalie Portman.
Copying scenes from Hollywood doesn’t really work, and it really isn’t necessary! You need original material, that’s perfectly suited to your skills.
That’s the one thing I’m most proud of with my showreels. I write unique content for every single actor; and you should insist on that from whoever you use!
2. Real Locations.
That’s another thing which showreel companies have a tendency to do. They film everything in a studio. So your bar scenes and cafe scenes look like they’ve been shot in a college studio.
It works for theatre. The characters can pretend they’re in a restaurant, or on the beach, and the audience buys it. But in screen work, reality is essential. You want people to think, “they’re in a house,” not “they’re in a house-set in a TV studio.”
3. References & Reputation.
Find out who will be writing your scenes, who will be directing them and who will be editing them. What are their credentials? Who else have they produced showreels for? Have their showreels helped actors reach the next level?
Some showreel services are just a money grab. There are thousands of actors out their desperate for work. And they think showreels are the answer. And of course, they are a big part of the answer, but only when they’re done right.
I create a lot of showreels — as well as writing and directing my other projects. I’m constantly learning, constantly trying to better myself. The showreels are a thing of pride; I want my work to shine and I want to see the actors I create reels for succeed.
When you find a showreel company you’re considering using — don’t just go by the showreel on their front page. Do some research, see what the others look like. If you can, contact the actors they used, ask if they were happy with the reels, find out if it helped them!
February 21, 2013
I’m a screenwriter. But the only people that get to read my scripts tend to be directors, actors and producers. So I thought I’d put a bit of my work out there for anyone who might be interested in reading it.
‘The Proposal Update’ got to the final 12 of BAFTA-Rocliffe Writing Forum last year, out of over 400 submissions. It was also performed twice on the stage at the Old Red Lion Theatre.
It’s a script I’m very proud of. It’s a comedy, so it should make you laugh. And the good news is, it’s only only 15 pages. Have a read and enjoy! I’d love to know what you think. You can read it HERE.
February 8, 2013
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
The main reason I am able to earn money writing and directing showreel scenes for actors, is because most directors hoard the footage for years. They won’t give it up, won’t share it. In fact, nearly every single actor I know has had the experience of a director ignoring their calls and emails, simply to avoid having to share the footage!
There are many excuses that directors give. Here are the most popular.
1. It’s not properly edited or graded yet, so I’m reluctant to share it.
2. Sorry, I missed your emails and calls. What did you want?
3. We’re going for the festivals. Cannes and Sundance. We can’t let footage out due to exclusitivity.
4. I own the footage, it’s not yours.
5. I’m not giving it out for showreels yet.
Here’s another secret. The main reason, in fact, perhaps the ONLY reason that directors hold back the footage is this:
They’re ashamed of it.
When you come up with a film idea, you’re convinced you’re a genius. Then you write it, and wow, you’re still amazing. And then you shoot it; and the actors have their own ideas, and the lights keep breaking, and the location isn’t quite working, and everybody hates you because you don’t know how to talk to other human beings.
Basically: life happens. Things are never perfect, it’s just the nature of it!
Experience and knowledge allow you to realise that nearly all footage always sucks, because we’re not the geniuses we think we are.
But it takes a long time for directors to be that self-aware. So we’re mostly ashamed of the terrible nonsense film we’ve made.
So we don’t edit the film. We just leave it on a hard drive and hide from it. For weeks. Months. Years.
And then a actor asks for the footage. We’ll throw up any excuse.
“It’s currently being graded.”
“We’re currently in the process of thinking about grading it.”
“I’m in India for the next four months.”
“The footage is all in India. And it’s being graded there.”
The bottom line is that whatever the director or producer or editor is telling you; well it’s probably nonsense.
And they’re scared that their film sucks. And guess what, it probably does.
If you want your footage back, I recommend the delicate approach. Tell them you admire the fact they want to make it perfect; but remind them (politely and not angrily) that you worked really hard on it, and you need something to show for it. And let them know that you know the project is far from perfect; and that all you’re looking for is a few little shots to go on your reel. Play down the importance of it, yet remind them you have a right to it.
And don’t let them get away with the ‘festival’ excuse. Festivals are fine with there being trailers online, and if an actor has a piece of footage on their reel, it’s a non-issue. Directors have long used this as a golden excuse for keeping footage for themselves, but it’s nonsense. Festivals have a problem with a whole film already being screened elsewhere, or on the internet. But you having twenty seconds of a scene in your reel is irrelevant.
Good luck getting your footage back, and don’t resort violence.
January 21, 2013
In the few years that I’ve been creating showreels for actors – I’ve noticed a huge shift in their importance within the industry. In the digital era, there’s no excuse for an actor not to have a showreel, and casting directors know this.
December 30, 2012
I love Christmas. And I love starting a new year. But the in-between period is always a difficult one. Why? Because I sit at home, eating chocolate, convincing myself I’ve achieved nothing all year. 7. The Showreels. This year, I went from doing a showreel or two, to having it be a business where I can begin to earn something resembling a living. I’m proud of the showreels. I think I offer a service for actors that is better than anyone else out there. And so many of them have done really well through them (new agents, TV roles, Hollywood auditions).
December 25, 2012
October 3, 2012
In years gone by, there were fewer projects being made, and the ‘headshot’ was the most important factor. In fact, when I first started casting projects, the main way you’d get a sense of the actor was through their CV and their images.
But now the game has completely changed – and luckily actors are, for the most part, approaching casting in the modern way; by prioritising the showreel.
There are thousands of films being made every year in the UK alone, from big budget features, to student films, to experimental art pieces.
With an abundance of projects, opportunities abound for actors. They may not be dream roles, they may not earn them money — but they can get great reel footage. It’s crucial.
Even if an actor isn’t getting cast in projects. With the widespread use of DSLR cameras in recent years, nearly all actors, through a friend or relative, have access to a good camera, and therefore; access to great looking footage.
Many want it the old way, they feel entitled, like they’re just waiting for the right opportunity. But for the most part, they get left behind by the more pro-active performers who are going out of their own way to generate opportunity by creating their own material. Whether it’s hiring someone like me for my showreel service, or picking up their iPhones and improvising on camera – there’s no excuse.
The big joke in the industry is when an actor says, “I am currently putting together my reel,” it’s nonsense – and everyone in casting knows it. It signifies laziness. Or speaks to the actor’s insecurities, whereby they dislike their footage but secretly hope that the next project’s material will be far more usable. The problem is, this day never comes — and years and years pass. The actor wonders why they never get cast, yet of course, they’ve never invested in a showreel to show that they can ACT!
If you want to get opportunities to act, then people need to see that you can act. It’s pretty simple. The days of excuses are over.
It reminds me of something Arlene & Jean-Claude Audergon once taught me, about recognising the milestones in your life. They said that most people are constantly chasing after the next thing, always trying to achieve something — but they rarely give themselves credit for what they’ve already accomplished. I remember, during a particularly self-pitying moment with Jean-Claude; I was moaning about the fact I’d only written ten pages of a feature script. Ten pages? Pathetic! A feature film is a hundred and twenty pages!
He slowed me down and congratulated me on completing ten pages.
And it was the first time I’d ever looked at it that way. If I’ve not made a short film, I’m unhappy. If I’ve made a short film but it’s not in a festival, I’m unhappy. If I make a film and it’s in a festival but it’s not a well-known one, I’m unhappy. And on and on it goes.
It’s something about human nature, that we do that; but in particular it’s a trait I see all the time with people in creative industries. They never look and say, “hey, I achieved something!”
So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I promise you, it’s not boasting. I spend 364 days of the year thinking I’ve done NOTHING, so allow me one blog post to put it into perspective and feel a sense of achievement!
1. BLUE CAT & BAFTA
Start of the year, I wrote a feature film called ‘The Toilet Attendant’. I wrote it in two caffeine filled weeks in the Starbucks on New Oxford Street. And then I entered it into the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest, which takes place in LA.
Out of thousands, it got to the semi-final (the last 25). And it was nominated with four other scripts for the Cordelia Award (Best British Screenplay).
I didn’t win, but I was close!
Later in the year, I entered my script ‘The Proposal Update’ into to the BAFTA Rocliffe Programme. Out of 400 applicants, I got to the final 12. So close, yet so far.
But I’m happy. To get that close, it’s not bad, y’know?
2. The Huffington Post
I got the chance to blog for The Huffington Post on a regular basis, which is a great website to be a part of.
3. Writing & Directing for the stage.
I directed my piece ‘The Proposal Update’ twice at the Old Red Lion Theatre as part of the wonderful Writer’s Bloc series. I am not a theatre person, not at all — but to totally go out of my comfort zone, and put something on the stage — wow, what a buzz! It was so immediate. Hearing the audience laugh (and laugh they did) at our short comedy pieces. Wow.
And it’s funny, because when you do a piece to 60 people in a tiny theatre, and then an hour later it’s over– you’re kind of left thinking, ‘umm, is that it?’
But what I realise now is that, it sticks with you. That moment. And now the night is gone, the play is finished, and only 100 people in total saw my short play before it vanished. But that’s enough! It was a moment in time and the people LAUGHED! Wow.
I got a job filming and editing for Quins TV. I’ve always been more of a football fan; but Harlequins are the Barcelona of Rugby. It’s a great privilege to be working with them. That’s the thing with being freelance, with following this kind of work, you never really know where you’re going to end up. As this year ends, I’m potentially going to be writing a thing for BBC Radio, and potentially writing for a big website, but will it happen? I don’t know. It’s heartbreaking on the one hand, because you just never know, but every now and then something really happens, and it’s the greatest feeling.
I could tell you about twenty things that almost happened, but this isn’t the blog post for that.
5. The Big job for the agency from Los Angeles.
I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I can’t go into specifics. But let me say; it was a great experience, it paid me a heap of money, had me truly learn what it’s like to write a script while five guys from LA say “umm, actually, how about if….” as they offered up bizarre script ideas.
And the thing never got made, as is often the case.
But I got to write a big project, for a big agency, representing a giant client. Exciting? Yes. Soul destroying? A little. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Such a great learning experience.
6. Last Christmas / Our Christmas
I made a Christmas movie, and so did my friend Mark. We shot them in a couple of days — no time, no budget, no crew — just went out and did them for fun, and the love of Christmas.
And people like them. What a feeling! It’s great to do something just for the hell of it, just to meet great actors and to put something out there that hopefully someone, somewhere, will relate to.
8. Springsteen in New York.
I wrote a screenplay about Bruce Springsteen. And Roy Petersen and Leo Fiorica made it, in New York.
A movie. Springsteen. And New York. Wow wow wow. So exciting. Seeing a film that I wrote, wonderfully put together, and to the sound of THE BOSS.
9. My Friends Succeeding.
This is the best part of all. My friend Marcus Markou made a feature film. Not only did he make a feature – but it’s one of the best independent films I’ve seen in a LONG time! When we first met, we talked about Billy Wilder, little did I know that this guy was genuinely capable of making a film which captures all those magical little life moments— just like Wilder. The film is called ‘Papadopoulos & Sons’, I hope it gets a big release in 2013. When it inevitably does, you MUST see it. A huge achievement, by a hugely talented and inspirational filmmaker.
And then there’s Natalie Gumede. Wow! And I don’t even like ‘Coronation Street’. But she blows me away in it! I met her a few months before all the Corrie craziness began, and it was obvious how much talent she had. But so often in this industry, you see talent, but it doesn’t quite get the break it deserves.
But Natalie is on TV, in front of millions of people, with giant storylines, and I just feel immensely proud to know her and see all that she is achieving.
And there are so many others. My friend Steven Porter, doing incredible work in the community (mostly in schools) with the East London Performers Academy, and seeing Debra Baker turn up on TV every few months (this year in Doctors, and in a Sainsburys Ad, and others).
And now it’s time for 2013. What an exciting time to be doing what we do. The digitial revolution is well and truly here. We have the cameras, we have the talent, and we have the internet. Where will this be leading us?
Very sorry to call in sick but I have that bug that’s going around.
Please come to work, we cannot cover your shift at such short notice.
I don’t mean to cause any problems but last year you made me work all night, visiting nearly every house in the world — and I didn’t even get an hour’s break time (as required by law).
Also, it took you three months to pay my invoice. I have the flu.
These sound like workplace grievances rather than legitimate sickness. May I remind you that you are a senior member of our team and you are here to set an example to the little ones.
This behaviour will not be tolerated. Get to work at once — we have a lot of ground to cover tonight.
I told you, I’m sick! I think I’ve ruptured my cruciate ligament. Can’t you just get someone else for tonight? How about Howard in accounting? His beard is almost long enough.
This is your final warning. If you do not come to work immediately you will be fired. It’s time to come to town, Santa Claus.
None of the kids have been nice this year, so why bother? Also, I forgot to pick my uniform up from the cleaners.
How about we delay Christmas for a day or two? The postal service are casual about deliveries, why can’t we be!?
I’ve had so many almosts over the past year.
Was close to getting a movie made, called ‘Side By Side’, which is currently on hold due to a lack of funds and the ridiculous craziness of how much it costs to shoot in a hospital location. There’s just no way around it — whether it’s a real hospital, a derelict hospital, or a film studio, the costs are astronomical.
It’s my fault for writing a movie set in a hospital. Maybe I should re-write it as being set in a field.
You always hear the success stories. The people who made their amazing feature films for £20k. Well, mine is the almost success story; a film that was so close to coming together but then ultimately failed. At least for the time being.
And at the beginning of the year, I was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Bluecat Screenwriting Contest. Down to the last 20, of thousands. And I was shortlisted for the best British script in the Cordelia Award; which meant I was in the final 5 out of 200.
But didn’t win.
And then I entered BAFTA Rocliffe’s comedy programme. There were 400 entries. I made the final 25.
And then Rocliffe called me. And said, “you made the final 12. But not the final 10, sorry.”
Sometimes you get so so so so close to the very thing you’re dedicating your career towards.
The prize for the top 3 in BAFTA Rocliffe was a trip to New York, all expenses paid, where they read your script at the NY Film and TV festival, and set-up pitch meeting with all the networks.
That prize would literally have taken care of all my dreams in one go.
But I didn’t make the final cut. Yet was so close.
I’m not moaning, not at all; I’m just trying to share what it’s like. It’s heartbreaking! When your script doesn’t make it, you feel rejected; because so much of who you are is in your writing.
It’s not all rejection. I recently got a great writing job which is paying me a fair old chunk of money. It’s a script for a film promoting a well-known product (that you all use); it’s not the dream job; but hey, I’m a writer making a living which is not an easy thing to do. I would tell you more about it, but I’ve signed one of those non-disclosure things.
I am wise enough to know that the near misses and rejections are all part of the process. Screenwriting and film directing are an art form, a craft. And it takes years to get great. I’m still on that journey. I’m miles better than I was five years ago, but nowhere near as good as I’ll be five years from now. It’s taken me some time to realise that, but it’s the reality of the business. Every writer I love had a huge period of struggle, when no-one cared, when their stuff wasn’t good enough. Even Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) went years without being able to get his sketches on ‘Saturday Night Live’. Now you look at his writing, and ‘SNL’ can only DREAM of having writing as good as his.
Day by day, week by week. We get better. Right now, I might not win all the comps, I might not get all the jobs. But just wait!
December 30, 2012
I love Christmas. And I love starting a new year. But the in-between period is always a difficult one. Why? Because I sit at home, eating chocolate, convincing myself I’ve achieved nothing all year.
7. The Showreels.
This year, I went from doing a showreel or two, to having it be a business where I can begin to earn something resembling a living. I’m proud of the showreels. I think I offer a service for actors that is better than anyone else out there. And so many of them have done really well through them (new agents, TV roles, Hollywood auditions).
December 25, 2012
October 3, 2012