So You’re New to Acting and Want a Showreel

So you’re eighteen and want to get into acting but have no training, should you get a showreel? Or you’re sixty-eight, newly retired, and want to jump into being a screen actor – should you get a reel?

At whatever stage you’re at in your journey, an acting reel is always going to be a good idea, but what you need to figure out is whether you’re ready for the financial investment that comes with doing a reel.

Another thing you might be thinking about is doing a course that costs a heap of money and has a ‘showreel’ tacked on at the end like an afterthought. Is that a good idea? Probably not, for many reasons that we’ll get into.

It would be easy for me, as a creator of professional actor showreels, to definitely say ‘yes, hand over your money,’ and then create your showreel. But it’s not always as simple as that.

Can it be too soon to make an acting showreel?

It definitely can be too soon to make a showreel. There are many questions to ask yourself about a showreel:

Can I afford it?
Is it good value for money?
Am I confident enough to learn scripts and perform them on camera?
Do I understand what it is to be on set and take direction?

I can’t answer these for you, but they’re certainly something to think about.

Can I get a showreel even though I have no training? 

Having a background in acting, especially on screen, can be very helpful when you decide to get a showreel made. Because you understand the process, you know what is expected of you.

That being said, what if you don’t have training and don’t have experience? I’ve known many actors who have found a random course on the internet, paid £3000 for a week’s ‘training’ – and found themselves worse off than when they started (financially, and as an actor!).

And, the truth is, a showreel filming can, of itself, be a kind of training. You learn so much from filming numerous scenes in a day.

Dan, when should I contact you about making a showreel?

You probably have an instinct about whether you’re ready for a professional reel. What I know is that I can create a great reel based on the abilities you currently have, making something you’re proud of. It’s important to be realistic about what that is.

If Tom Hanks got in touch and asked me to make a reel, it would be incredible (or awful because I’d be very nervous!), because he’s one of the best actors of all time. Likewise, when I make a reel for an actor who is trained and has great experience; their background and knowledge is very helpful.

But let’s say you are young and untrained but full of passion, what will happen? As long as you have passion and are willing to learn and take direction, we can make a great piece of work that will help people get a sense of who you are.

Likewise, if you’re retired and trying this out as a new career, it’ll work if you’re open-minded and keen to learn. Experience isn’t everything. You can only get experience by doing things. And if you’re newly retired and considering acting, you probably don’t want to go off and get a degree in acting.

When should I NOT get a showreel?

If the idea of being in front of a camera terrifies you – and you’re going to spend the whole time in your head thinking ‘am I good enough?’ and ‘is this terrible?’ – then you’re probably not ready for a showreel. Go find some acting classes; go film yourself doing some monologues, go and get good and confident.

Likewise, if you’re convinced you’re as good as Al Pacino and believe you’re a genius even though you’ve only ever acted in the mirror, it’s probable that you’re not ready either.

For me, the best actors are willing to learn, willing to discover. That attitude is the key part of being great on screen.

Should I go and do a course that offers a showreel?

Maybe! But do your research. A huge percentage of my clients are people who did courses like this but were disappointed with them. What can be tricky about these courses is the lack of personalisation.

You want your showreel to really showcase who you are, to bring out your uniqueness. A lot of these courses rehash scenes (often illegally, using copyrighted material! Or using the same scripts they use for every course).

What you don’t want from your showreel is to find that you’ve been stuck with a bad scene partner, or that it was rushed, or that the camera and edit was focused more on the other person.

There’s great training out there, but whether you should do something that is a course/showreel combo, I’m not so sure. Be sure to do your research before putting your money down.


What will a showreel do for me?

I’m in the business of creating showreels so if you ask me you’re in danger of getting a sales pitch. But let me be honest with you:

The main thing you want from a reel is to feel a sense of confidence and proudness. You want a video of you, acting in numerous scenes, that feels like it can represent you in a genuine and honest way.

My way of doing this is to write personal scenes, tailored very much to who you are and what you can do (there’s my sales pitch!).

Can a reel guarantee you’ll be on the BBC next month? Can it guarantee a lifetime of paid TV roles and a super agent? Of course not. There are so many variables in this industry.

A showreel is one part of the package. If you’re reading this you’re probably trying to figure out headshots, agents, casting directors, Spotlight, and, of course, getting a new reel.

It can feel daunting but it doesn’t have to be. The main thing is; don’t be pressured, and don’t feel rushed. A showreel is important, and you’re ready to create one when you’re ready to create one.

My Showreel Services

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Find me on Instagram: @danieljohnsonfilms

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