ACTOR SHOWREELS – More Important Now Than Ever

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.

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.


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Daniel Johnson
Writer, Director, Author