Five Things Your Acting Showreel Needs To Be

The thought of putting a showreel together sends many actors into panic mode. To help you out; here are a few things to think about — five things your acting showreel needs to be. 


1. Simple.

Don’t overcomplicate things. Your reel has a very specific job: to show who you are and what you can do.

Anything that detracts from this message is harming your showreel. If you want to have sharp edgy editing, or a two minute montage, ask yourself first: what does this tell the viewer about my acting?

Go for simplicity. Stay on message. Show you can act.

2. Concise.

A showreel is not the place to show people every project you’ve ever been involved in. It’s about showing people how capable you are as an actor, in as short a time as possible.

The old screenwriting maxim that you should ‘enter the scene late and leave early’ applies just as much to your acting showreel. Show what is necessary and nothing more.

3. Truthful.

We need to see who you really are.

Might seem strange to ask you to be ‘truthful’ when all you have is footage of you being a zombie and a psychotic murderer.

But the best showreels give us a sense of who you are; your humanity, your sense of humour, your energy. Our favourite actors are the ones who we relate to. If I see a real human being in a showreel, I am instantly intrigued.

If the casting director watching your demo reel is intrigued, they’re going to want to know more about you.

4. Current.

You got older. Admit this to yourself.

The screen is unmerciful; and it requires truth. Our favourite actors are our favourite actors because they show us who they are.

If you’re 52 years old and you’re still trying to pass for 31 on your reel, then you’re helping no-one.  In an industry that so often cares about how you look, this is tough. Especially if, in your early 20’s, you were getting cast because you were attractive.

Times change, and the most interesting roles are for interesting faces – you need to show people who you are today, right now. Those wrinkles tell a story and they will enrich the characters you play. Own that!

5. Alive.

Your showreel needs some vibrancy. I don’t mean using flashy edits and a Pharrell Williams track. You just need to make sure your showreel is a living and breathing thing, not just clumped together scenes.

Work with a showreel editor who knows how to weave a story together; who can find the truth from within your material.

I create showreels for actors – from scratch or from previous material. You can find out more about this on my Showreels Page.

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