As a filmmaker who specialises in showreels, I hear a lot of what actors want from a reel. The problem is however, what a lot of actors want, is not actually what they need.
“I really love Natalie Portman, I want to do a scene from Black Swan.”
– NO! NO YOU DON’T!
I hear this one a lot, (not specifically Natalie Portman, but often) and the issue is that by picking a scene that was originally performed by a famous actor in a famous film, you are immediately doing yourself a disservice. Whether you nail it or not, you are putting yourself in the position to be compared to the original and chances are, it won’t be as good. Now, you might think that this is an obvious mistake to avoid, yes, I would have thought so too, but you would be surprised how often actors continue to make this mistake. Older, unknown, or more obscure scenes that happen to be performed by A-listers is fine, just be careful.
“I always get cast as the girl next door, so I don’t want to do anything like that.”
– YES! YES YOU DO!
If you are just starting out, undiscovered, or lack current material, the worst thing you can do is go against your type by avoiding characters that you are most likely to be cast as! Casting directors WANT to be able to type cast you. That’s how you get the work. They remember you for the job and the next one and the next one because you are the best girl next door ever. So, capitalise on your type cast. Feel free to include a scene that pushes the barriers of your type, sure! but don’t go pulling a Gandalf because you have a friend that’s good at make up.
Now let me clarify that this advice applies to those at the start of their career. Get professional credits, build a portfolio and a profile before you let the world see how transformational you are 😉
By Ryan Harrison
Owner/Operator @ Sparrow Films
Ryan is a a professional actor living and working in Sydney, Australia. He has many credits in front of, but also behind the camera and has developed the skills and experience to live and work off the income from his acting and production company, Sparrow Films, which specialises in showreels for actors and other performers.