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How to make a good showreel? - Shooting showreels for actors and actresses is tricky!

Updated: May 28, 2021

According to first hand information that we received from Casting Directors (thanks to our Casting Director interviews that will be released in 2021) such as Tonucha Vidal, Luci Lenox, Carmen Utrilla, in Spain; or Scott David, Jane Jenkins in Los Angeles; among other professionals, we can enumerate the next tips about "how to make a good showreel". But first, what is the use of a showreel?

Frame from La Masia Reels - Showreels for actors Discover La Masia here >

There are different showreels styles and, as technology advances, we get far and farther from the old concept of putting together our scenes on a tape or CD and sending it by post office to Directors, Casting Directors or Agents.

Today, a showreel is a good tool to find agent. Because it lets them validate your actoral quality in a single video, and then make you an appointment for a first personal meeting.

Scenes, on the other hand, are useful to apply to specific jobs, and that means to be specific in the genre and in the acting type. For example, if you or your agent have the goal to work in Narcos, the series, what do you think you have to send to Carla Hool, the Casting Director? Probably, not your drama and comedy showreel scenes, altogether. You will send, separately, your drama or thriller scenes.

For this, the targets are different. In both cases the image quality, the sound, and the acting should be as high as possible, because, either we like it or not, actors are competing with the image referent of HBO, Netflix, AMC, Paramount, Universal...So, as the old saying goes: "Get dressed for the position you want, not the one you have".

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Frame by La Masia Reels

Watch more scenes of this showreel here >

Having said that, let's enumerate the bullet points in which the Casting Directors and Agents usually coincide, about "how should be a good acting showreel":


  1. Start acting. No still images, no 15 sec head titles. Straight to the point. They are working, and time is very precious.

  2. Never start the showreel with someone of your same genre, unless you have a diaphanous protagonism, because they won't know who you are. Same apply to groups. Except if you are very well-known or if you appear with someone very famous to enhance your role.

  3. It must last a maximum of 3 min. Kelly Valentine, Casting Director, makes it very clear on her interview for Spotlight 'I don't like having to skip through 3 or 4 minutes to find someone's best work.'

Frame by La Masia Reels

To watch more scenes of this showreel click here >

  1. 5 scenes is ideal, so they can appreciate perfectly your acting, emotional transitions, and inner monologue.

  2. Show your best characters. Use the 80/20 principle. This rule, discovered on the XIX century by Vilfredo Pareto, says that in any strategy you make the 80% of the results come from the 20% of your effort or causes, in other words not everything you do "it's worth the same", but some of them are more important than others and impact highly on the results of your career. Your showreel is no exception!

  3. First 30 seconds are the most important. So, show the best. You'll be 1 of 500 sending material, so just if you result very interesting to their project they will watch your whole showreel.

  4. Make the 1st scene interesting and preferably be acting naturally, reacting, listening, and acting as in daily life.

  5. Listening, reactions, and transitions are very important. It's not just acting and talking.

  6. Diversity. Assure that each scene brings something new. If the first scene is a drama, make the second a comedy, next a thriller, etc.

  7. Make difference between the scenes; don´t be sitted everytime, or standing on every scene, or make them all during the night, etc.

Frame by La Masia Reels

To watch more scenes click here >

11. Focus on the ACTING. You are not a producer, or a DP, so image batteries are irrelevant. (A possible exception of images with famous actors and productions that level up your performance). Usually, if they want to check your resume they will find it at IMDB. If you don't focus on enhancing your acting the casting directors will waste time. For example: publicity, modeling pictures, acting pictures or homemade videos. Save this for other channels like your website, vimeo or Instagram.

12. Quality of image and sound. Your competition has the highest quality and years of experience. Play your best cards!

13. It's good to see other actors. Just the necessary to get in context, also remember not to crop them too much because it could loose coherence on the cinematographic narrative lenguage.

14. Do not assemble the same scene more than once. Usually, casting directors want to see a scene juste one time, and with a duration of 30 secs to 1 min.

15. Update it! Your showreel is a living animal, just like your web, your pictures, or your social media. It has to be always at the forefront!