How Spotlight Making Showreel Uploads Free Changed Everything
Showreels have been gaining prevalence for years. In the age of the internet, the iPhone and the YouTube upload, there’s no excuse for not having something that can showcase what you do. Whether it’s a self-taped monologue, a few student films or a paid-for reel — if you have NOTHING, you’re nowhere.
Until recently, you could still get away with it. It’s not that the upload cost of putting a reel on Spotlight was prohibitive, it was £31. But like anything, when there’s a financial barrier, many people avoid it, or put their reels elsewhere.
But now, if you don’t have a showreel on your Spotlight you’re not going to be cast (unless you’re established and have a reputation). And why should you be? To hire you as a screen actor, the Casting Director wants to know you can screen act! As projects get speedily cast — a casting is about minimising risk; and the best way to do that is to see that the actor has the experience and skill to be able to do the job.
Horrible way of looking at it, I know. We want to be known for our nuance and skill, yet it comes down to a phrase like minimising risk. Of course there are exceptions, but the day-to-day nuts and bolts of getting a job as an actor require showing you can absolutely do what is necessary without any fuss. Sure, you’d love to be able to prove that in an audition, but increasingly it is becoming harder to get auditions (the ones you really want) without a solid reel.
When Spotlight made showreel uploads available to all, for free, it changed the game. Now everybody has a reel. Paradoxically, directors now spend even LESS time watching them, but they get through more of them. They flick through to get a sense of you, and if you’re right for the role, they’ll watch a scene or two.
And now it seems strange when you see a Spotlight page without a video. What are these actors up to? An increasing number of my showreel from scratch clients in recent months have been theatre actors who have honed their craft over many years on the stage, yet have nothing to show for themselves on the screen. What else is a stage-experienced actor to do? Spending years working on short and student films to amass the footage isn’t an option, not when they’re used to working steadily on the stage.
Showreels are now essential. Ideally, as an actor, you want to amass that footage through the work you get hired for. But now another option is to get a showreel created. This comes with it’s own problems, which I have outlined previously in my articles, ‘Three Things To Insist on When Getting A Showreel From Scratch‘ and ‘Things Drama Schools and Universities Get Wrong With Showreels‘
The bottom line: Showreels are essential. Don’t be the actor who’s missing out on opportunity because you haven’t got your reel together.
Further reading to help with your reel: