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Actor Showreels: Six Secrets to Get Noticed


The problem with first impressions is that you only get one.

Eye-catching actor showreels can make or break a person’s career. This digital portfolio offers the perfect opportunity to impress on the viewer your key skills and differentiate yourself from the chasing pack. Grab a casting director’s attention with a perfectly put-together showreel and it could be the defining factor in getting the roles you’ve always dreamed of.

Be the centre stage

It’s your advert, so make sure it’s you who lights up the screen. This doesn’t mean you should do a solo piece with plenty of close-ups as this won’t demonstrate how you can interact and feed off other actors.

You should avoid using background or extra work with a big name hoping you can trade off their reputation. If you played a bystander when an A-Lister walked by in a certain scene, it doesn’t serve as a showcase for your skills.

Avoid montages

Truly great actors bring a warmth and authenticity to their performance that can’t fully be conveyed in a series of quick-fire shots. Montages won’t show the depth of your character. These fast-paced pieces simply explain that you were in many scenes for a short time, but that’s it. Which is why many professionals avoid montages.

Tailor your showreel to the job

In the acting game, one size most certainly doesn’t fit all. No acting job for screen or stage has the same requirements, and therefore neither should actor showreels. Like all the best commercials, your advert should target and appeal to your key audience. Every actor should keep a bank of their best material that can be quickly added into a showreel when a new role comes around.

Mark yourself out

We all know that hair, make-up and costumes can transform an actor until they’re barely recognisable between roles. This is why it’s essential that your photo on your CV resembles the actor seen on the TV – especially if there are other people of similar, age, gender or race in the same scene.

Start and end your acting showreel with a slate that includes your name and contact information. This can be easily overlooked, but it will help a busy director who won’t spend much time searching for your details.

Make yourself available

The fast-paced world of acting for screen and stage means that directors may need to cast someone at very short notice. If you have already uploaded you reel online to a site like Vimeo, then the casting department can see your virtual audition at just the click of a button. Other directors can also easily share it to someone who could use you in the industry.

As a backup, keep a stack of DVDs that can be sent out at a moment’s notice. Not everyone will view things online, so be flexible.

Get feedback

Actors are often too involved in their pieces to be objective. A person’s showreel needs to be reviewed by someone who is impartial and emotionally detached. Leave the emotion to the screen or stage: in order to produce a concise but effective piece you need be ruthless.

A course such as Screenwise’s Showreel Course can offer guidance from industry experts with experience in the casting chair. We can give feedback from an insider position and help you tailor your showreel to be memorable for all the right reasons.