22 Feb 2018

Five Best Practices for Making a Showreel – Screenwise Tips

With so many other people vying for the same positions as you, it's vital that you understand what makes a great showreel.

Selling yourself is key in the film and television industry. For anyone pursuing a career in acting for stage and screen, an inspiring showreel is an essential way to get your foot in the door and open up your career path. Your showreel should display the most powerful and up-to-date segments of your work.

1. Less is more

Keep your showreel punchy and don’t be tempted to include too much footage. Few casting agents or directors have the time to look through all the reels that they receive, and many will pass on one that has an overly long running time. There is no golden number, but the received wisdom is that you should be able to showcase your talents within two minutes. Three minutes is generally considered the upper limit.

2. Start strong, end big

Making a foray into acting for stage and screen can hinge on making the most of the right breaks. A showreel is your chance to get ahead and give an eye-catching performance that will keep the casting director interested. The majority of the casting department won’t wait until the end of your showreel if they are put off at the beginning.

If you feel that any content is below par, eliminate it. The reel should be quality throughout, but it’s especially important to begin and end well.

3. Keep it simple

Don’t go big on the music and special effects: it’s your skills that need to shine. Too many actors use fast-paced montage-style footage, cut to a distracting track, and fail to draw attention to their performance. You’re not applying for a producing or effects job, so the edit should complement the acting, not distract from it.

Ensure it’s you, rather than other actors in the same clip, who gets the most face time on screen. You need to display your own unique characteristics – not another person’s.

4. Use up-to-date work

The hardest step of any journey is the first one. The most common stumbling block for an actor is simply beginning to make a showreel. Don’t wait for your latest big production to offer your material because that footage may never come. The best actor showreels are ones that are regularly reviewed and represent a person’s most recent work and current look.

5. Make it professional

In order to find your way into the business, you, and your showreel, need to look the part. A professional showreel will go a long way in convincing a prospective employer that you are deeply invested in your art and understand the requirements of the industry. It will also show you in the right light, allowing the viewer to feel immersed in the piece rather than being distracted by production quality.

Professional-looking showreels can be made by people using footage from their acting for stage and screen work. There are a variety of professional courses that teach the requirements of producing a showreel, including ours at Screenwise. We offer a specialised Showreel Course for students who want learn how to best display their acting talents. Students are instructed by award-winning industry professionals throughout the part-time course and work towards the production of a high-quality digital compilation.

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