The Most Important Thing In An Acting Showreel: Believability

Writer & Director Daniel Johnson

Writer & Director Daniel Johnson

I don’t think it matters anymore whether your acting showreel is from TV work or a showreel from scratch service. The important thing is that we believe it, that we are convinced by the performances.

Therein lies the problem with getting a showreel from scratch. If you’re not careful it will look like it’s shot by wedding videographers, and you’re just a talking head in the middle of a¬†frame.

Three steps to showreel believability.

1. Good scripts.

You need original scenes. Not rehashed material from ‘Casualty’ or your favourite movie. You need fresh and distinctive writing to get your teeth into.

2. An intuitive director.

Not someone who’s just in it for the cash. You need a director who cares about your performances, that works hard to make an actor comfortable and involved. I’ve heard too many stories of showreel shoots that feel like a factory production line. You need personal attention.

3. Vision.

You need vision as an actor. How do you want to be perceived? What do you want to show to casting directors?

And not just your own vision, but vision from the filmmaker; how do they see you? What will they bring out in you? The best showreels are specific. They paint you, the actor, as an artist. They bring out who you are and showcase your unique gifts.

Things you must insist on when meeting a showreel company.

a) A meeting.

Don’t sign up if they won’t meet you beforehand. How can you expect them to give you a meaningful, personal service if they won’t even meet you in person?

b) Previous examples.

Not just the best one on their website. Ask for their most recent showreels. And dig them up online. Look at their history of recommendations on Casting Call Pro (here’s mine). Ask around.

c) Value for money.

A bit like the aforementioned wedding videographers, showreels are a place where filmmakers can just pluck a number out of the sky.

You need to make sure you’re getting value. Be careful of ‘add ons’. Be sure before agreeing to anything¬†– how much are you being charged in total?

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