Updated: May 28, 2021
We are fully committed to creation, shooting, and edition of professional showreels' scenes for actors since 2015. In this post, we would love to make sure that you will find job if you keep in mind this common mistakes. But we would be lying.
However, what we can make sure is that if your showreel hasn't these 10 common mistakes you'll have a great tool to target your goals. And if even with this you can't find job, you will be closer to discover and solve that other factor that is precluding you to grow.
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This is why we can't wait to share with you our list of how not to do an acting showreel.
All this information comes from our interviews project "Entrevistas a Directores de Casting y Representantes de España", that we will release in 2020. We interviewed Casting Directors as Luis Gimeno, Rosa Estévez, Cristina Perales or Conchi Iglesias, and Agents as Mayte Ortega, Aleteia, EGV, Calabuch or DeCara, among others!
So, here we share with you some tips they recommended about showreels:
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1. RED FLAGS ON A SHOWREEL If your showreel has some of these "red spots" instead of advancing in your career, they could impede the access to castings, agents, or the jobs you want.
Not a good/worked acting.
Homemade shots without good illumination.
Deficient sound, it doesn't sound good or there is an annoying sound on it.
Not a good script.
Props and background that distracts.
Playing in an extremely competitive industry, as movie making, in which we all "pick through eyes", showing a poor image, content, or sound is not a great idea. It is equivalent to wanting to compete in the F1 against Fernando Alonso driving a Seat Panda.
Specially today, that we are used to Netflix, HBO or Movistar's quality.
A casting director, producer, or agent receives hundreds of actor's mails in a month, where he/she is just looking for 2 main characters for the project, and maybe 8 secondaries. Discard is a need. And, just as in a job interview, if the candidate presents with a misspelled resume, a stain on his/her shirt, he/she looses points, and he/she is liable to discard. Same happens with an amateur showreel.
2. IT LOOKS LIKE A MUSIC VIDEO
Apparently, some actors think that a showreel should be like a musical videoclip, with an edition where the same person reappears, but with different outfits and hair styles.
However, a showreel works for showing your interpretative quality. A good way to show it is presenting professional scenes of yourself acting, without making it look as a trailer or as a videoclip.
Could it be a short images' edition? Most casting directors do not recommend it, other small percentage is ok with it. This edition, separated from principal scenes, is better to go at the end, they say, and it's related with the point 8 you'll see later.
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3. IT'S COMPOSED BY WHITE BACKGROUND SCENES
Let's put an example: Dabiz Muñoz, leader and chef of Diverxo, 3 Michelin stars winner restaurant. This restaurant offers haute cuisine dishes, presented with fine taste, in a very creative way, and with a very excentric style. It requires more than 20 workers, a more than 100 m2, and a modern styling.
This restaurant is for Dabiz what could be a movie for an actor, or a showreel, or a portfolio website. It's a professional cover letter.
On the other hand, Dabiz has his home kitchen, where he just cooks for his wife and his friends, on a casual style. For an actor, this simile of the home kitchen could be a white background scene. They are ok for a selftape, because it's understood that there is no need, no budget, and no people resources to have cinematographic quality.
We understand that if Dabiz would never offer dishes made of supermarket products, or place plastic chairs and tables, an actor shouldn't pretend to offer acting quality without: a script that do not enhances his/her profile, a director that can evoke wonderfully the story of his/her character, and make professional shots, an acting coach that helps her/him relax and discover interesting shades, a photography director and editor who gives a cinematographic look, and professional edition and sound.
4. IT LASTS TOO LONG
It's not a movie, it's a showreel. You want that the person who watches it ends before getting distracted with Intagram. If your showreel lasts more than 3 minutes, it's too long, said by casting directors and agents.
5. "SHOW THE WORST AT THE END"
Probably you have listened to this quote, right? Are you sure the worst at the end? It's a showreel of just 3 minutes! You shouldn't show anything below remarkable. If in those minutes you are forced to show an amateur result, you are throwing rocks to your own roof. It is very important to keep coherence and constancy in quality standards. So, everything that's not good enough better discard it.
However, if we are referring to "show what's remarkable" at the end, and "what's excellent" on the beginning, we are on the right way!
6. SHOWS TOO MUCH DIVERSITY
Sometimes we want to do it all, and do it very good. And, even if maybe our acting range goes very large in the future, it's not probable that all that experience gets reflected in this year's showreel. Even Christian Bale needed 18 years of difference between American Psycho and Vice.
If you already have that background, and those characters on your back, congratulations! If not, it's a good idea to show that you can perform wonderfully one role, and not many roles poorly.
7.GIVES THE LEAD TO THE FAMOUS ACTOR
If you worked with Paco León and you have a lot of enthusiasm to introduce those scenes in your showreel, but your agents tell you not to be that bold...For example, adding a fragment, with the famous, at the beginning, at the middle, and at the end of your showreel is too much. And if Paco León is seen more than you, then maybe you should ask yourself if it's fulfilling the objective of showing your acting.
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8. PROMOTING AS EXTRA
In addition of working with Paco León, you had an appearance as extra in Game of Thrones, next to Emilia Clarke. Congratulations, you are on fire! I'm sure that if you post it on Facebook you are going to get a lot of likes. However, truth is that Daenerys's scenes are not going to bring anything to your showreel.
Even when you say a word as "Fire!", probably it lasts 2 seconds, so it's not showing any of your acting skills or your personality. It's better that you take the frame and you post it on Instagram, do not show a reel as extra.
Going back to point 2, some casting directors and agents agree on having a little reel, on the end of your showreel, with a mix of "nice but useless scenes". Others admit that they stop the showreel at that very moment. However, if your'e trying to find an agent this could work for you.
9. THEY ARE SCARED OF PAUSES AND SILENCES
Precisely, a showreel needs listening moments. It's not all about acting. Sometimes reacting and listening is a feat. If you receive external stimuli that wasn't planned and you have to adapt, it's perfect to detect if an actor has high, medium or low level.
The actor that just wants to talk and lead the voice all over the showreel, is showing just one color, and looses the opportunity of showing shades that bloom when he/she receives stimuli from other actors. If one says "I want to leave it with you", the interesting thing is the reaction of the other character.
10. WHISKY ACTORS AND ACTRESSES
I know you are in love with 2006's scene with Viggo Mortensen in Alatriste, and that other one in 2010 in which you dropped a tear when you said: "I love you Alfred". But it's been 8 years from that, and other 4 from Viggo. If you notice successful businesses use to paint, change the decoration, and the place of things every so often. Renovate is fundamental to keep attracting new opportunities and feel that you are fresh air. Staying in the past doesn't do anything for your career. You are not whisky.
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We hope you enjoy it.
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