Acting 101: How to build the perfect showreel
Maybe you’ve been acting for years or maybe you’ve just started. No matter what stage of your career you’re at, a showreel is an essential tool for every actor, as it basically shows casting directors what you can do (or at least, what you’ve done).
It doesn’t have to be long (in fact, the short and sweeter, the better) and it certainly doesn’t need to include every project you’ve ever been involved in. But you’re going to need one and with this in mind, here’s how you can build your very own showreel.
You can start out by filming yourself performing a short monologue. Try setting the camera up and make it look professional. This doesn’t mean you have to go and find costumes (though if you do own an 18th century ball gown, why not break it out?) and a makeup person (though, again, if you have a makeup artist friend, why not give them a call?). Just do something simple that shows off your acting skills.
Keep it simple
A lot of actors (the not very good ones) think that acting is all about being loud and doing indeterminable foreign accents. This couldn’t be further from the truth (unless you’re trying for a role in Pirates of the Caribbean), so don’t feel bad about recording yourself reading something simple. A simple script performed well is a lot better than an over-the-top one done badly.
They won’t pay you, they probably can’t cover travel expenses, they probably can’t even get you a sandwich and a can of soda. But what they can do is maybe offer you a part in their film which, even though it won’t look like Avatar, will at least show the potential of everyone involved. And when you’re getting a showreel together, that’s what it’s all about – showing your potential.
Audition for everything
You should be able to walk the student stuff, but then comes more professional auditions. Again, if you get offered a part, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to offer up the big bucks – but one thing that counts as currency in the crazy ole world of filmmaking is footage. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship if you work for free if they give you a copy of the final film as well as a copy of your scenes cut out – these can be used on your showreel.
Rob a bank and ask the news crews for a copy of the footage
Playing a bank robber would be a great part for any actor, so why not just cut out the middleman and rob a bank*? That way, you might get spotted on the news by a casting director, or you could get copies of the news footage to add to your showreel. Also, if you don’t have any headshots, mugshots with a nice filter will do.
*We’re kidding on the last point – please don’t rob a bank or you’ll go to prison and your new, shiny showreel will be worthless!