Key facts about the course
What will you study
In a survey done recently, 62% of casting professionals said they'd prefer to view separate, short, contrasting video clips, over 28% preferring a show reel (10% had no preference).
You need a show reel, however equally important is individual clips. Strive to have your own website, You Tube and/or Vimeo account (obviously You Tube is owned by Google and having an account with them ticks boxes for what google likes in terms of search engine optimisation) with a short menu of clips, so industry professionals can choose exactly what they want to watch. The plus side to this is that you will then be able to send a link in emails, rather than attaching an MP4 or movie file, which will clog up emails.
You have the option of developing and filming a high budget short, which will enable you to submit to festivals, which will market you in a different way to a show reel. If successful - even if you just get your film screened, people will see your work and you may make contacts. Do not rely on Casting Directors for everything.
Casting Directors and Industry Professionals
They are now more than ever are under a lot of time pressure to find who they are looking for. They probably have very little time to look at your work and decide whether you are one of six or eight they are going to call in. They are experienced at honing into energies, looks and qualities to fulfil their job description and they don't need long. Not many casting directors watch show reels from start to finish, therefore keep it short. Quality is more important than length.
Know Who You Are
Make it clear who you are. I know that sounds stupid, but the person watching does not know who you are, even if they have seen your headshot. Start your reel or clip with a shot of YOU. Don't have the opening sequence with you and someone of the same gender and hair colour. Be clear who you are, so you don't have to make the viewer work harder and possibly give up
They need to be perfect! Only do accents if you are as fluid and natural at them as the person who is indigenous to the country or region you are portraying. This is not impossible, however be objective when making the decision, or get someone you trust to make the call. Don't underestimate your own voice or how you naturally speak, especially if you haven't any broadcast experience. You will most likely be cast in the beginning with what you've already got.
The number of actors in your scenes, needs to be thought about carefully. If all your scenes are just of you and one other person sitting on a park bench or in a white room having a chat, it begins to look like a show reel produced for show reel purposes. If possible, have one film where the person you are acting with is not your age or gender - maybe older people or children. You also have to be clever at getting their casting right and if you don't, change the script slightly to suit.
Broadcast Quality Filming
It is important. Muffled sound, shots out of focus when they shouldn't be, lack of production design resulting in no depth, over composed scores, out of sink edits, bad lighting - the list goes on - is not acceptable - especially in your show reel. It is true that you need to mainly focus on your acting and character, however you also need to be aware of the craft of film making, and your part in that. It is a team effort and you will most likely be surrounded by very skilled crew, however it is not all down to them. You can help them by knowing what â€˜film acting' is, or your relationship with the technical side of film, so they can get on with what they need to do. It makes it very hard for them if you act like you are on stage.
Your Individuality and Who You Are
It needs to be understood before you even begin choosing scenes or characters. Although you need to be the best version of yourself, you can't be anything other than yourself. You can't compete with someone who is innately the type that is being cast, the best you can do is be the most extreme, interesting and complex you can be - but within your casting. Your casting type will come around, and if it doesn't, create your own work that celebrates everything that is great about you!
Cutting your showreel
This is a craft in itself. Don't put everything you've ever done on your reel. Use good stuff, not lots of stuff. Don't put bad material on there and it's very important to have a strong opening. Don't waste time with sound tracks and montages at the beginning. Try not to go over three minutes long and never go over 3 minutes 30 seconds. Most show reels sent to Casting Directors get turned off in 40 seconds. The clips within the show reel can be as short as 30 seconds (which is why we have a 30 second film), however don't spend 10 of those 30 seconds focused on someone else driving the scene and in most of the shots. If you don't have any broadcast credits, put the clip that you are most likely to be cast in, or your best clip - first. or your best clip
Not many screen acting, show reel courses would agree with this, however we believe that it is just as easy and much more important to get a great, specific, right location, than a white room or park bench. White rooms and park benches are ok, if that is what would be used in a feature and completely make sense to the script, however not ok if it is just shoe horned in. Choose locations that couldn't get any better if they had all the money in the world thrown at them, or if they couldn't get any better if in production with features, Netflix or Amazon etc. Parks, train stations, hospitals, beer gardens, churches, forests, streets, playgrounds, offices, front rooms, cafÃ©'s, book shops etc would stay the same no matter what production they were in. Don't try and create a Victorian gala set with no budget, however you can create a street location on little or no money. Other tips are to choose locations with natural depth, if possible do a recce on the day and time you will be filming and finally on filming inside, make sure the rooms are big enough to create decent shots, otherwise settle for a succession of close ups (not a bad thing in a low production value film).
What Professional would you be?
A nurse, social worker, soldier, police officer, doctor, teacher, receptionist, fitness instructor or sales person? Casting small roles relies on actors to look the part, as there is no time to establish who you are in one or two lines. Who you are needs to be explained by looking at you. If you have no broadcast credits, this could be your way in, but you may need proof, through your show reel that you can look like it. We always need professionals in our films and TV series.
If you have special skills that you are really good at (not moderately good at), try and work them into you're your show reel. This not only shows you off, but it helps break away from all your scenes being between you and another person sitting down. Having you do combat, playing a guitar, boxing, free jumping or riding a horse can really add production value. Of course you have to be able to afford the horse and location etc, and if you don't have cheap access to these things, then it is not worth it, however anything is possible.
Tag Line and biog
Your show reel is essentially a marketing tool. It enables the world to see what you can do, what you look like, how you sound and more. A good idea is to start the process of creating your show reel with a tag line - a two line description of yourself. Also a biog - a four line description of what you have done. Throughout the creation of your reel, always refer back to see if your show reel is evidence of your tag line and is building on your biog. You can then choose to use your tag line and biog after that in general emails, websites, social media etc to market yourself, so that everything ties together and makes sense.
Think of people watching reel after reel of actors â€˜going through tragedy', sometimes badly. It's enough to turn anyone off. Don't be scared to do normal, cute, romantic or comedy scenes. Actors can feel like they are not doing anything if they are not going through some sort of emotional dilemma, but I have known actors who have secured auditions, just because their show reel isn't full of it. Don't be afraid to have quiet moments in your reel. A character thinking or listening is extremely engaging. Don't have a succession of close ups in your reel. We get it - more screen time - it is your reel, however we also get a lot from different angles and the reaction from other characters.
Changing and Clip your reel
Many actors don't have an up to date show reel. Adding to and clipping your reel should be a yearly exercise. We hear a lot of actors say they are waiting on footage, or that you are disappointed with the student film you did and can't use it, or you are not right physically at the moment. It is all very understandable, but it really doesn't help you and the simple reality is the industry professional will just move on to the next person to cast - in a second. Finally don't be scared to kill the films of your reel that are your â€˜best ones', if they are not serving a purpose.
Pricing for 2018
Bronze: 1 min 25 secs
= Â£150 shared with other person = Â£75 each
Silver: 1.5 - 2 minutes
= Â£200 shared with other person = Â£100 each
Gold: 2.5 â€“ 3 mins
= Â£270 shared with other person = Â£135 each
Platinum: : 5.5 â€“ 6 mins
= Â£600 shared with other person = Â£300 each