How your showreel can help you get more work

by Anthony Holmes at

Showreels are partly an art form, partly a showcase, but primarily a tool for career development. A successful showreel is one that helps actors get more work. Using the right clips in the right way maximises an actor’s chances.

I’ve been a specialist showreel editor now for over 15 years, editing reels for actors at all stages of their careers, from recent drama school graduates to established talent such as Andrew Sachs and Sir David Jason. I have a keen sense as to what casting directors are looking for in a showreel, and prior to that I worked as a producer, reviewing dozens of showreels for each available role – and I know first-hand the difference a showreel can make between being cast and missing out on the job.

Here are my top 10 tips to consider when editing your showreel:

  1. An opening montage won’t help; they waste valuable time and most casting directors don’t like them. Go straight into a piece with dialogue and substance.
  2. Your showreel should open on a close-up of you; where possible, avoid opening on group scenes or a scene with another actor of the same sex and age range.
  3. Your showreel should represent you as you are now, and reflect your current look.
  4. Always include the most appropriate scenes for the type of roles you’re keen to get.
  5. Include a good contrast of scenes in your showreel, but variety of character types isn’t necessarily good – bear in mind many casting directors are looking for a type, and you’re making their job easier to cast you if you don’t try to be all things to all people.
  6. A showreel should be short and punchy – it doesn’t need to show full scenes, but key moments – although don’t over-edit, give enough space for the characters to breathe and for the pacing to work. Each showreel is unique and will have its own ideal duration, but aim for 2 to 3 minutes or so. You don’t want to bore a casting director – show them just enough.
  7. The order in which the scenes play is crucial.
  8. An existing scene can be re-edited to minimise the screen time of other actors, and focus more on you.
  9. Focus on the higher production value and higher profile footage; your employability is increased if you avoid using self-tapes and ‘shot for showreel’ scenes (which casting directors can spot a mile away) – they want to see how you handle yourself in a fully professional environment. Self-tapes are the way forward for individual castings, but don’t belong in your main showreel.
  10. Keeping your showreel regularly updated is a great way to showcase your latest work, and gives you an opportunity to remind casting directors (and your agent) about you, and keep them interested.
  11. All rules are made to be broken! These aren’t strict rules, but general guidelines; there will often be occasions where individual situations require a different approach. Your showreel editor will be able to advise where this is the case.

Watch some recent showreels edited by Anthony Holmes at, and to keep up to date on the latest showreel news, don’t forget to follow Anthony at &

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