How to Prioritise Material When Editing your Acting Showreel

It’s one thing just trying to build enough good material to edit into your acting showreel. It’s a whole other thing to figure out what to use, why, and in what order. Here’s a few handy tips that will elevate the quality of your actor showreel! 

It’s crucial you start with a strong piece of acting.

Note: I didn’t say to use that scene where you said two lines to Hugh Grant in a movie. It’s cool that you did that, but it’s probably not the scene you need to start your reel with.

Ideally, you have a scene that captures a character somewhat close in essence to the real you.

Even more ideal if the scene has an element of conflict.

Some of the best reels I’ve seen have started with a relatable character in a conflict. So for example, a scene where you, looking like you, say, “I think we need to go to the police,” or “I’m going to confront Dad” or “I don’t think I can be around you any more,” is a strong way to start.

To show a clip of an actor showreel

Why do I say a character ‘looking like you’? Because if you’re dressed as a vampire or a Nazi soldier, then you’re directing the viewer to cast you in a very, very specific way.

Okay, maybe the Nazi soldier would work if your selling point is being evil bad guys. But most of the time, a moment of you in a weird costume or in a horror film isn’t going to be the best way to kick off your reel. It immediately limits how you’ll be perceived.

Begin with a strong piece, with a naturalistic style. It gives the casting director a sense of who you are; and will begin firing up their imagination. It will give them ideas of how they can use you.

Then, in following scenes, you can delve into your casting types more – maybe you’re good as a therapist, a drug dealer, a teacher. Whatever it is, you want to show those sides too.

A close up of an actress in a showreel scene.

The BIGGEST mistake I see on showreels is that they start strong, end weak.

With a showreel you need to be confident in your good work, and you need to be confident that it is enough.

If you have two strong scenes, have a reel with two strong scenes.

If you have two strong scenes, one bad scene, and one kind of okay but weird scene, ditch the bad scene, ditch the kind of okay but weird scene.

Go with your strongest material.

The bad stuff at the end of the reel will be disappointing to the viewer, it’s much better to leave them wanting more.

LEARN MORE About my Showreels for Actors Service.

BUY MY BOOK:How to Build a Great Acting Showreel‘.


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