12 Mar 2020

7 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Existing Showreel – Screenwise Tips

Choosing the right content for your showreel can be difficult. You need to showcase your best work while promoting yourself as the great actor you are.

As with any other piece of work designed to sell your skills, your showreel must be regularly updated. This is done to reflect your most current work, but also to show others you are still taking on new jobs in the industry.

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Your showreel is what will help you land agents, impress casting directors and land you auditions. Think of it as your physical resume of your professional TV and film work.

Your showreel should demonstrate your range of acting abilities. Those viewing it will see what you’ve accomplished as a professional, so it’s best to keep it current.

As you complete more projects, you’ll have more content to add to your showreel. Since it should be no longer than around three minutes in length, you’ll need to periodically update it to reflect that content just as you would a resume. Here are seven showreel tips to get you started.

1. Your showreel doesn’t include your latest work

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Perhaps it’s been a year or more since you’ve updated your showreel. You’ve been on numerous acting jobs since then, but haven’t incorporated any of those scenes into your showreel.

The last thing you need is an outdated reel that does not adequately represent your talent. Keep in mind casting directors, producers and other industry professionals will be viewing your showreel, and clips from one of those recent jobs just might help you get a new job over someone else. The acting industry is extremely competitive after all.

Each time you complete a job, comb through the scenes you filmed and make a note of those that are showreel worthy. If one in particular stands out, you may need to update your showreel right away to include it. Otherwise, make a list of scenes you want to include, and once you have enough, create a whole new reel. Remember, the idea is to stay current while always showcasing your very best work.

2. Your showreel is too long

If you’ve been adding to your showreel, it may have become too long. It’s hard to choose the right scenes, especially if you have several you feel should really make the cut. 

Using a showreel that is longer than it should be may hurt your chances of getting new work. This is especially true if your best work is at the end, but the person viewing your reel doesn’t make it that far.

Take inventory of the scenes in your showreel and make a list of those you think are the best. Ask other people you trust to view them as well. The scenes you choose should stand out, so take your time when selecting them.

As previously stated, your showreel should be no longer than three minutes. Once you have enough scenes to fit this length, put them together in a brand new showreel, being careful not to go over the three minute mark. It’s difficult to know which ones to leave out, but sometimes you need to sacrifice older work and replace it with newer, more relevant scenes.

3. Your showreel production is poor

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A badly produced showreel will hinder your chances of getting acting jobs. Unflattering lighting, garbled audio and weird framing are all elements of poor production.

A reel that isn’t produced well will have bad production value. It feels amateur and will distract the viewer. Most of these reels aren’t even viewed at all.

Instead, as another showreel tip, only use clips that are of a professional standard. Your backdrop should be clean, and the viewer should be able to see and hear you. 

4. Transitions between scenes appear weak

The transitions between each scene of your showreel should make sense. While it may be tempting to string together a murder scene with a love scene, then follow it with a rom-com, this will not appear natural to the viewer.

While it’s fine to include all those scenes in your showreel, you need to do it in a way that keeps them separate. You can still showcase your range as an actor without showing wild crazy scenes that don’t have much viewing appeal.

Instead, choose your best scenes, then think about how they will work together. If one just doesn’t fit, consider selecting another. Remember, you have three minutes to wow the viewers, not shock them.

5. Your showreel feels forced

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If possible, include only clips from professional productions in your showreel. If you can’t, do the best you can to select the most professional-looking clips you have filmed.

Your showreel should be natural. Always shoot in a good location and make sure all clips are cast appropriately. The last thing you want are clips that don’t showcase you in the best light.

6. Scene choices are bad

Scene choices are everything in your showreel. They can literally make or break your career. That is why you want to carefully choose which scenes you will include.

What constitutes a great scene will be different for every actor. Each scene you choose should be one you resonate with so your best qualities as an actor are evident.

You should always be on the hunt for your best scenes, and earmark them for your next showreel. Just think of how much easier creating it will be if you already have several great scenes in mind before you begin.

7. Your scenes don’t include the right acting partners

No matter what scenes you select for your showreel, they should include the best possible supporting actors. Choosing scenes with the wrong actors are guaranteed to help your showreel fall flat.

Look for your scenes that include acting partners who enhance the actions in them. Does the dialogue sound natural? Are the scenes convincing? Do your acting partners enhance your performance?

Think deeply about your scene partners, as they may impact the overall acting impression you want to leave behind. 

Want to learn other great showreel tips, or how to make a showreel? Check out our showreel acting course. Or, visit the Screenwise blog for more tips on acting, our courses and much more. 

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