How to make a good showreel

a big showreel

A showreel is a great way to showcase your skills and gain potential employers’ attention. A good showreel should be short, concise, and demonstrate the skills you have that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

If you are looking for a career in acting on stage or screen, it is imperative to have an inspiring showreel that showcases the best segments of your work.

Nobody will be able to see your future potential without this vital tool.

The showreel should contain the most powerful and up-to-date sequences of your work, displaying what you are capable of in today’s industry.

Compiling a 5-minute reel of your acting roles doesn’t take long. This should allow agents or directors to get an idea of what you’re capable of in the industry.

What is an actor’s showreel?

Showreels are an actor’s best chance of being cast in a production. These videos showcase the actor’s range and ability to convey emotion through body language, facial expressions, and dialogue.

Showreels also act as a way for industry professionals to view the actor’s screen-work without having to watch their entire back-catalog.

Building the perfect showreel: 10 top tips

Keep it the right length & pace

a good showreel is not long and drawn out but rather short and to the point

We would recommend keeping a showreel around the 1-3 minute mark.

A showreel should be set to the right pace for people to see your range of skills and clips without getting overwhelmed.

Make sure not to repeat anything to make it seem like the same footage is repeating, and don’t spend too long on each clip or you’ll lose people halfway through.

Don’t leave the best for last; everyone has a busy schedule so 3 mins is too long. Make sure people pay attention by showing them only the most relevant and impressive footage.

You want to make it personal and unique, but not too original.

Keep it clear

frustrated man screaming at a confusing showreel on his laptop

Always make sure your name, what you do and any ways to get in touch are on your showreel.

Keep it clear ,

When you want to show off your skills and experience, consider adding lower thirds to quickly and easily provide an explanation of what you did.

When potential clients see that, they will be able to decide if you’re the right person for the job.

Keep it relevant

It’s important to know your audience. If you are making a showreel with the intention of selling yourself to a corporate client for a talking head video, they don’t want to see your footage from when you were on the sports channel.

A client wants to know why you’re the perfect choice for the job and not if you could potentially do it or not.

Keep it consistent

components of a good showreel like these lego storm troopers are consistent in size and features

Always start by envisioning what you want your final video to look like in your head. Map it out, piece by piece.

The vibe in the music, the pacing in editing, and so on- all these things will be crucial for establishing a good premise.

Without a plan, you might just do unbroken shots with no musical accompaniment.

Once you have finished, ask a few people who always provide constructive feedback for a review before sharing it with other people you don’t know too well.

Cut ruthlessly

“There can be no such thing as a student film that couldn’t do with editing.”

Many student films are over-ambitious and under-funded.

It is important for universities and film production companies to offer more guidance on what is achievable and how to be successful, so as to avoid creating a film with too high a risk of failure.

Demo reels are a representation of an actor’s past work. They show their strengths and not their weaknesses.

It is important to focus on highlighting the actor’s best work and not showcasing items they may be emotionally attached to such as theater productions.

Keep it short

simple

Consider how long your showreel should be from a studio’s perspective.

Creating a reel that outstays its welcome is not a good way to gain their attention, and it can even strike them as boring.

Start and end your showreel well

Neil Gallagher, a senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, suggests opening with your best work and then, just to ensure you don’t begin with a bang and end with a whimper, close with your second-best piece.

Match your reel to the vacancy/studio

The reel should show the best of your work, skills, and experience.

The reel should also be tailored to the position you’re applying for.

For example, if you’re applying for a position in animation, then all your animations should be on the reel. If you’re applying for a position in VFX, then all your VFX work should be on the reel. It’s your job to make sure that they see what they want.

When creating your company’s reel, try to include some of the best work you’ve done. But don’t just do it because it’s relevant – it has to be of great quality.

Make your role clear

woman soldier standing and holding a rifle with two men soldies siltting on either side of her

One of the reasons why recruiters don’t like student films is that they’re usually team efforts, and it’s often unclear what the applicant contributed. If there are three characters on screen, is it one person playing all three roles?

“For group work, it’s important to explain what the student has done. This could either be an indication within the video or a PDF or Word document.”

Show your workings

It’s impossible for people to get an idea about how you accomplished your feat just by looking at you.

When you’re finished with a project, provide a shot breakdown that describes exactly what you did and the software you used.

There’s no downside in letting your client know about the specifics of what went into producing their finished product – they’re naturally curious and it’s in your best interest to tell them.

If you’re applying for a technical role, it shows you have good creative instincts too.

Clichés to avoid

a good showreel should avoid clichés like these silver horizontally oval alien spaceships hovering over the ruins of a decaying city

In order to avoid clichés, it is important to think about your story and what you want to convey. The following are some clichés that should be avoided in general: dragons, robots, cameras endlessly flying round etc…

Your sizzle reel can’t look at all corny. It needs to be quite sophisticated.

9 Ways to make your showreel stand out

a good show reel will stand out like this monk walking on a picture of a gravel road

Have a portfolio

A big part of what makes editors successful is having a bunch of different work samples to show agents. This lets them see the bigger picture and not just take a brief look at each individual clip.

Only include your best work.

Upfront

Keep your most recognizable brands in front of clients. They might not hang around until the end of the reel.

Less is more

Have a powerful showreel that’s short and sweet – don’t try to cram in loads of footage.

There isn’t a set number of seconds, but typically people say that they should be able to show off what they’re all about in 2 minutes.

Three minutes is generally considered the upper limit. Quality is more important than quantity.

Start strong, End big.

Keep your showreel simple

A good way to keep your showreel simple is to focus on your skills and not on the projects you have worked on.

This will allow you to highlight the skills that are relevant for the position that you are applying for.

For example, if you are applying for a job as a designer, it would be best if your showreel only showcased design work and nothing else.

Use up-to-date work

The hardest part for most actors is just getting started with the process of making a showreel. You should review and update your showreel regularly because the best ones represent a person’s latest work/look.

Don’t wait for your next big film to offer your footage, because it may never happen.

Make it professional

a good show reel is professional like this business man in a blue suite and
 tie

To find any kind of work or role, you need to put together a good showreel and dress the part.

A professional showreel will go a long way in convincing a prospective employer that you are deeply invested in your art and know what you’re doing when it comes to the industry.

It will also showcase your work in the best way possible, enabling viewers to feel like they are immersed in the video rather than distracted by technical glitches.

Conclusion

A “showreel” is a collection of scenes from various productions displaying the actor’s skills.

By following our steps you can be more informed about how to make the best sizzle reel

Just don’t let the no’s or no responses get to you, keep trying, and you never know what might come your way.

Leave a comment with your opinion or any questions you may have below…