Monday Prescription – 5 Ways to Sizzle up your Acting Showreel

Hi Film Folk!

It’s Monday Prescription time again and today we’re doing one for the actors out there!

Film Doctor - Acting Showreel


That’s right, we’re focusing on what an actor can do to make a great acting showreel. We’ll be covering a few bases here and if you’re NOT an actor you still might learn something. Let’s go!



What might be a 1 or 2 or 10 year acting odyssey to you is just precious seconds wasted to a Casting Director, Agent, Producer or Director who have literally hundreds of these things sent to them every day, on top of phone calls about production, contracts, creative issues, their existing clients, events and meetings to attend.

No, they shouldn’t ‘make more time’ or change the way they operate. You should make your showreel better. 

So don’t start off your showreel as if it’s Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’, start with a quick title card and get straight into a scene so people can see your excellent acting work. 



It’s better to have acted in a film – even if self-produced – than to have shot a scene for a showreel. Films can be entered into festivals and win awards and increase your value as an actor and creative. Scenes can’t.

The minute you commit to making a film that is even just 2 minutes in length you are also committing to quality. If you’re ‘just shooting a scene for my showreel’ you are already setting the bar low. You will also struggle to get excellent cinematographers, sound, make up or other collaborators to shoot a ‘great scene’ and the temptation may be to slack off and do it on the cheap.

“But what about my image?” Starring in a film that you’ve directed or written or produced that’s actually good doesn’t make you look desperate or like you can’t get cast in things. It makes you tenacious and have that all important ingredient ‘get up and go’.

Look at how Vince Vaughn, Billy Bob Thornton, Lena Dunham and Vin Diesel started their careers.


 ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ (Shakespeare) and ‘Leave them wanting more’ are popular industry sayings.

’nuff said?


The words on the tip of nearly every actor’s tongue is ‘I need more stuff for my showreel’. And sure enough, lesser projects are taken on just to speed up the showreel-making process.

Oh you impatient, impatient, impatient little princes and princesses. You are defeating the object as the showreel then contains a mixture of badly shot scenes of one dimensional characters rather than the high quality material you originally sought after

Do NOT just do student or low budget projects just for the sake of accumulating showreel material. Work with those whose projects you LIKE (they can be student, professional jobs or otherwise but you MUST LIKE/LOVE the scripts and their work).

If you can’t find the great parts, scripts or filmmakers then we refer you to point 2. Become Producer, get an excellent team together and DO IT YOURSELF!


Worked on a project and it turns out it sucks? Leave it out.

Frustrating? Yes.

Means you may need to do one or two other projects so you actually have enough material to make a showreel out of? Probably.

Oh well. Do it yourself or go on a hunt. Keeping in bad material will not get you work, love or respect!

Example Video

To inspire you, here is a short film ‘Multi Facial’ written, directed, produced by and starring Vin Diesel at a time when he wasn’t getting seen for the parts he wanted:



Monday Prescription No.114: If you don’t have the material, MAKE the material. Keep bad scenes out. Keep it brief. Cut the montage.



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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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