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Thursday, 26 August 2010


Any of you who are actors or filmmakers will have had to put together a showreel to show others what you can do in your chosen field.  I have had one for a number of years now which I try to keep current and interesting, though unfortunately it's changed little in that time.  I am currently looking at it again and wish to improve it which has reopened thoughts that many of you may be familiar with.

Very generally there are two types of showreel, for actors at least.  One contains clips from short films, commercials, TV shows or features that the actor has been in.  The other is created by a showreel company or similar.  The actors may recreate a scene from a famous film or a stage show or even perform a monologue.  

Now as far as I know the common thought is that the first version is the best.  Clips from films you've actually been in show that someone has liked you in an audition enough to cast you and that you have been in a film that's made it all the way through to completion.   It shows that you can actually do your job on a 'real' production and have worked with a director etc.

There are two problems with this.  Firstly, the catch 22, you need to get work to get a showreel and you are more likely to get work with a good showreel.  It's not impossible though so this is not a major problem.  The other problem, and this may be controversial, many people make films, but many of them are pretty poor.  Sorry but you know it's true.   You may get a role in a short film, you most probably work for little more than some expenses, if you're lucky, but is it going to be good enough for your showreel?  You may even find that the film is never edited and finished, or it is but you never receive a copy.  The film is finished but the quality is very low, the shots are bad, you have no nice close ups, or the poor script has damaged your performance.   My point really is that you could spend a lot of time, money and effort working on quite a number of short films for very little return.

NB. I do think working on shorts is extremely useful no matter what the quality as you can use them to practice your craft and work with new people.  You never know where that short film director might go.  However this discussion is about getting good footage for showreels.

I was going to add some showreel examples here but I'm questioning it now.  I wanted to show you what I think are bad examples but now feel bad about highlighting people.  This does bring me to the point that although showreels are invaluable tools, put together a bad one and you can kill your career before you've even started!   I have thought someone was pretty good in an audition only to change my mind after watching their showreel.

So where am I going with this little rant.  Well despite having been in this game for a number of years I think my showreel is quite limited.  I have at least 3 or 4 short films shot over the last year or so that I have yet to see.  I therefore find myself having an old debate.

Should I just write, shoot and edit some footage especially for my reel?  I think the answer is yes.

I have clips from films I've been cast in so I've ticked that box but rather than wait around for new films, I will do my own.  My plan is to intersperse my existing film clips with new original footage I create.  

My other reason to do this is that this industry is so over populated and there is so much competition, you need to show a casting director what you can do.   If you'd love to play a tough gangster chick but your showreels and headshot only shows a sweet girl next door, why would a casting director think to get you in for an audition?  Show them you can do it and they might think of you when a job arrises.  Also, why wait for someone else to stereotype you?  If you want to do romantic comedies, then why not put some clips of you doing just that in your showreel.

Anyway, this blog entry is way too long.   Just thought I'd put that out there.  If you have thoughts please write in the comments.   If I end up filming some stuff I'll keep you informed.