How and Why Acting Showreels From Scratch Became Essential For Upcoming Actors

It never used to be about the showreel. You could get into the room without it – you could let your audition skills do the talking.

But now there are more actors than ever before. Especially if you’re a recent graduate – the field is inundated with competition. And while you’re busy thinking you will “get discovered”, somebody else is out there putting their new showreel together.

The difficult thing about casting without seeing a showreel is that you really have no clue what the actor will be like – you get no sense of their personality, their energy or their skill level. I remember when I first started casting my short films – we’d often waste an entire day on the wrong people. Part of it was my own inexperience in sourcing the right actors, but a bigger part of it is that you just never quite know what somebody will be like until they’re in the room.

Unless you see a showreel.

As much as headshots are still essential, it’s the showreel that gives us a strong indicator of what an actor is like. How old do you look on camera? Are you good with dialogue? Can you hold the audience’s attention? Do you show vulnerability? Do I believe in your characters?

You can tell so much just by flicking through a reel. I know you agree, because you’ve all flicked through showreels and, consciously or not, have asked yourself them very questions.

In this day and age, pretty much everybody is a filmmaker. There are hundreds of films being made every day by artists, students, hobbyists —- so why is it you don’t have a demo reel?

I know the reasons, and they’re legitimate — you’re waiting for material to be sent to you, you’re waiting to get cast in a role, you’re waiting to lose weight, waiting till your hair gets longer, waiting for the beard to come through, waiting for the summer to come when you feel less sad.

But those reasons mean nothing to the casting director. The excuses are not going to get you in the room and they’re not going to get you a job.

I recently finished a showreel for an actress called Aimee Barrett. Aimee is only 19 years old – but took the pro-active step of getting a showreel created. We talked about her casting and I wrote and directed scenes tailored to her strengths.

I am proud of this reel because how many 19 year olds with no previous screen credits have this much of themselves to show? She is at a great advantage by showing who she is and what she can do. And sure, it’s only part of her – she also sings and also can portray many casting types different to what we shot– but undoubtedly this is a great showcase for her. Her reel already has 800 views on YouTube alone.

A showreel from scratch used to be frowned upon, because it meant that actors had not done any work, that they had to create it themselves. Fifteen years ago this would have meant that you’re probably not a very good actor.

But in 2014, it’s different: nobody has done any work – because the marketplace is flooded! And even when you have done the work, it’s near impossible to get it back from the film directors. What we have now is an industry that is filled with highly qualified, highly talented actors. But when it comes to film and television, so few are breaking through. The general feeling at the moment is that the same small group of actors are being used again and again on television.

And while I can’t overnight help change how television shows are cast – I can help you get closer to the mix by creating scenes from scratch that will show people who you are and what you can do on screen. You can find out more about my showreel from scratch service HERE.

Here’s another reel that I created:

You can view my Showreels From Scratch information page HERE.

You can see recommendations for my service on Casting Call Pro.

Email Me: dj@danieljohnsonfilms.co.uk.

Tweet Me: @danieljohnsonuk

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