If you’re an actor, you probably know that more and more producers of everything from feature films to reality shows are relying on technology to weed through the masses of faces they see at auditions. A showreel can have immense value to an actor trying to get professional jobs, whether to lend a sense of sophistication to your resume or to be seen for auditions in locations too far for you to travel to. Showreels are simply four to six-minute videos highlighting a performer’s strongest work, and they might cost you less money than you think. According to Cracked Magazine, actors can spend upwards of $500 on head shots alone, and slick showreels can cost them at least twice as much. If you need to create a showreel yourself but don’t want to spend a fortune, the basics are easy.
1. The Right Content
If you have previous screen work under your belt, no matter what it is, it will be a lot easier to create your reel. But if you’ve never been on camera before, don’t worry. You’ll need a friend’s help to film several strong audition pieces, hopefully a combination of scenes and monologues in a simple, well-lit environment. You can edit your reel with a basic program online or get a friend who has taken film classes or has a basic understanding of video to help you. You don’t really need to pay for expensive services because the showreel shouldn’t require anything fancy. Montages or soundtracks actually make you look less professional. Stick to brief, 30 second clips, but don’t cut out all shots of other people. Acting is just as much about reacting, and you should leave room in your scenes to show both sides.
2. Filming Scenes from Scratch
Your aim with creating clips for your showreel, if you have no professional gigs to include, is to make casting directors think it’s from a real production. That doesn’t mean you should overdo it on props and costumes, only that you should make sure your lighting and sound is crisp and your performance is nuanced and realistic. Producers say the number one sin in showreels is overacting, so you should choose a variety of different pieces highlighting a range of different acting levels. There are companies that will provide you with scripts and even directors for your clips, but it’s not impossible to create them with your friends if you have the right tools and knowledge. A fancy, over-produced showreel won’t cover up bad acting, but great acting will show through even if your video resources aren’t spectacular. It all depends on what you can realistically fit into your budget.
3. Packaging and Distribution
Once you have your showreel on DVD, you should get it duplicated so you have plenty of copies to send out at once. Many casting directors refuse to see an actor in person unless they’ve been seen on video already, but many others flip through hundreds of resumes and don’t have time to watch everyone. Before you send in your reel, you should know whether it is required or discouraged in a certain situation. When you send in your resume, you can include that a showreel is available by request. It’s not uncommon to include your details on the disc packaging, but don’t try and plaster the outside with an elaborate design or pictures of yourself. Let your acting make you stand out. Frills of any kind are unnecessary.
Acting is a tough business where being seen by the right people can make or break your career. Having a strong showreel is the first step to making the right impression. It’s the best way to market yourself in a world where marketing yourself is the key to success.
Ken Osteen is an avid tech blogger. If you’re interested in using a showreel via USB, check into custom USB packaging.