A few days ago I wrote a piece about actor’s showreels. At heart, it was a plea for good advice from anyone out there who might have a take on my particular situation (returning to acting after a break of 12 years) and help get me clear about which direction to take when approaching what has now become an all-important tool in the casting process.
Of course, I wanted to reach as wide an audience as possible – I shared via my professional Facebook page and Twitter – but underlying all this is the need for publicity in the right quarters. Now, I’m not so naive that I expect to be plucked from the Interweb (it used to be the street) to star in the latest blockbuster, it’s just that people – anybody – knowing you’re around and who you are is half the battle. In this area I have a lot of work to do. I was at an event in London last weekend through which hundreds and hundreds of actors must have passed. Having been an actor for 25 years before the break and having worked with a fair number of folk in that time, I really would have thought that I would see someone I knew in the crowd. Nobody. Not one.
I feel like I’m starting from scratch. Yes, I have the advantage of a reasonable C.V. with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre credits but what use are they if no-one knows you’re around? Therefore, in the spirit of putting myself around a bit, I’m hitting this magical tool of the web as hard as I can.
You probably know all this already, but Hubbard Casting are giants in the film & TV business. Sometimes it can occur like they cast pretty well everything. I met the founders, Ros and John several times and I got a few TV commercials through them many moons ago. They cast massive projects as well, though. Lord of the Rings, The Bourne Trilogy to name a couple. You get the idea. The business is now run by the offspring of John – Dan and Amy Hubbard. Unusually, they have a Facebook presence in the way of an open group which has just over 6,000 members at this moment. I presume that the benefit to them is, given that talent is their lifeblood, it is another avenue for maximising the number of actors that they have connection to. Another rod and line in the river. Anyway, I digress – the point is that I thought sharing my blog post would be a legitimate and un-spammy way of having my name out there and, if I’m lucky, I might get some feedback that addresses the question posed by the blog itself – namely; what’s the best thing to do?
Well, at time of writing my post on the Hubbard Casting Facebook open group has 97 comments on it and I expect it’ll go past the 100 mark by the end of the day. Little did I know the can of worms I was opening. I won’t go into the debate that opened up there but amongst it all was a pure gem of advice from Amy Hubbard herself. I couldn’t have wished for more. It is the point of this blog and I’ve wasted enough time.
With the caveat added by herself that: “… there’s no pleasing ’em all (casters and agent, that is)” here is Amy Hubbard’s post on that thread:
Do a good slick reel with the best & most recent (last couple of years) material you have to hand. Keep it simple with things like music, and put in a montage if you really want to.
I very rarely, sort of never, do casting workshops because there is so much disagreement as to how to prep for audition, how to get seen, how to put your showreel together. (I often get told, “that’s not what so-and-so said at last week’s workshop”).
I look at showreels for a few seconds when I’m humming & hawing about whether someone is right or not. It doesn’t matter TO ME whether there is comedy, a commercial, a scene with a star, a monologue etc. etc. on there, I let my INSTINCT guide me.
There are so many things we could talk about to do with why you bring someone on, but don’t forget that sometimes the person’s face & physique should represent the emotional characteristics of the role. Not so much for leads. But all those supporting parts and day players, who have to be credible support to the story. The shorter the scene the harder it can be to ‘bring it’ as we all know.
So don’t stress about showreels, but DO make sure you have one, preferably available on spotlight (there are other methods out there but consider that spotlight have just made subscription free to casters, so this will safeguard them as the industry leader for breakdowns etc.) and keep it up to date.
I hope that helps. Sorry about the preamble.