What type of membership would you like to apply for?
Account access problem
You do not have permission to access this page with your current sign in details. If you require any further help, please get in touch at questions@spotlight.com.
Getting Work

Casting Directors Kahleen Crawford and Rich Mento and Spotlight’s Emma Dyson Review Your Showreels

Thousands of you entered our #showreelshareday competition this October, for the chance to win one of nine showreel reviews by Kahleen CrawfordRich Mento and Spotlight’s Emma Dyson. Watch the showreels, read the reviews and check out some top tips for everyone below.

Kahleen’s reviews

Rory Wilton

Doc Martin and Poldark are good TV credits. I’d consider pulling Poldark up to second on the reel so that you would draw us in with that really welcoming Doc Martin scene, then really hold onto our interest with such a contrasting character in Poldark. Is it a possibility to mine those shows for some additional clips to show off more of those roles?

I know you’ve recently re-edited your reel and it’s much shorter than the one on Spotlight, but I think that either replacing or paring back one or two further clips would be worth considering. Some of the scenes weren’t all that useful to me from a casting point of view. Some are self-contained and well shot e.g. Work Life, whereas with others such as Run, I’m just not seeing you well enough on camera, and I was pulled out of that one by not being able to understand what was happening in the scene. If you feel strongly that you don’t want to lose a character from your reel, have you definitely selected the right scene?

Also, perhaps an editor/someone with a flair for editing could help find a good way of incorporating shorter moments in a different way? For example with Serpentine – I think it is helpful to me visually, and for that key moment of emotion, but it struck me as awkward and too short to be presented as a stand-alone scene within a reel.

You have a lovely quality on screen and much luck!

Haruka Abe

Off to a strong and intriguing start with your opening shot, Haruka! Great to follow up straight away with the lighter, natural performance style of Cucumber. I wanted to see more here, so I wonder about bringing the later Cucumber scenes up next to this one? That way, I can also see a sense of your character’s journey in the show. It also immediately conveys that you had a number of episodes or were a guest role with an arc, and that’s good for a casting director/director/producer to know. (Likewise, maybe you could try that with the second Kiss Me First scene? Although as it’s animation, I don’t think separating it out is a problem if it works better for the construction of the reel).

This is a technical note really, but I wasn’t 100% sure about the edit on Cyberbully, and it felt a little jumpy/jarring for the purposes of the reel. Is there a way to recut it to keep my attention on your story, maybe even just by losing one shot of your co-star, to smooth it all out a bit? (Especially the ending to your character’s video with the cards).

Casualty is a scene you play well, but I didn’t feel I needed it on your reel, and I felt it stuck out a bit amongst the other material. If I can see from their reel that someone is a good actor, then I trust they can go to those sorts of places (i.e. tears/despair), plus Cyberbully has shown me you have vulnerability in your range. Your reel is tipping into a bit long anyway, so perhaps losing 20 odd seconds of that may actually make it whip along better?

I also had a question mark over Late Shift – I feel like I can see you have strength and grit elsewhere e.g. Cucumber and Kiss Me First… If you don’t want to lose the project, is there something else from it that would show off a side of your range we haven’t seen yet?

One thing it would be great to see down the line with your reel would be a strongly contrasting accent to what’s on here, but I understand you may just not have that committed to screen yet.

All in all, I am getting a good sense of you from the reel, and it just needs some polishing and trimming, I think!

Tomi May

Tomi, I think your reel gives me a clear sense of your casting. You have a strong presence, look physically capable, you’re using your castability due to your second language and your range of accents tapping into that, and also showing me your own Birmingham and a nice London in there too. All great things.

I feel I’m seeing certain notes repeated, and I wondered if there might be a way around that? I sometimes say to actors to keep commercials separate, but when it shows us something, I feel it can be worth it, and this does show us another energy from you. I guess my question is – do we need Toast of London on there when we have The Job Lot? The higher energy and strength is seen in both and it could mean people might put you in a particular box. That might be ok for you! And I realise both are nice credits, so I can imagine why you’d want them in there. But I had a question about the range and keeping that balanced so CDs, directors and producers think about your openly, so I’m just raising it.

I have mentioned this to two of the other actors today – sorry for being a stuck record! I wonder if another eye on the editing could make it really slick? In particular, I didn’t love the way the opening was cut, it confused me not to hear the dialogue – is there a better way to put the Tim Roth scene together? I know being opposite him is a good thing to show so I’m sure you’ll want to include. It’s just not quite working for me at the moment.

All in all a good amount of material, I think some tweaks could make it really whip along, and be a spot on tool for you!

Rich’s Reviews

Kosha Engler

Good. Solid. Not sure the 1st scene is best, in that order, as it’s almost entirely in profile. Maybe change up the order?

My opinion. Otherwise pacing is good. And the reel did its job; I’d want to see more.

Ebony Thomas

Good. 1st scene is mainly profile; not sure that is the best choice. My opinion. Otherwise good progression of scenes.

Like the choice for the final clip. Is the off-camera talking at the very end on purpose? Wasn’t sure if it’s the “mark” of the company that made the demo or what…..

Rosie Holden

Solid. Personally, I would start with the Father Brown clips. They’re the most grounded and solid acting pieces. Good choices for other scenes.  The demo moves along at a good pace. Kept my attention throughout. And did its job; I’d want to see more/explore further.

Emma’s Reviews

Harry Wyatt 

A lovely showreel, Harry! I would be inclined to use the very beginning of the Paul McCartney video (currently not on your upload) and cut after a minute or so, so we see the dialogue with you and the girl at the very beginning, leading into the track. Moving into your next scene; I think it’s a really strong piece, but very quiet? Is there any way of pushing the sound quality up? Your third and final scene shows lovely interaction with you and the other actor and coming in at 2 mins 45 it’s a good length.

Yuri Buzzi

Scene one is a good, comic scene to start with. I really like scene 2 and seeing you in your native language, but wondered whether it could be edited a bit? Scene 3 is fun, but again, might it be shortened? The rest is strong, but your reel is coming in at 4 mins 20 and I think it could benefit from a slight trim? Might you be able to knock a minute off? On balance – a good showreel with some nice work.

Katie Redford

Katie, I really enjoyed your showreel. You obviously have a strong flair for comedy and this is clearly demonstrated. I think it’s a perfect length and there’s little I would change about it. Lovely stuff.

Thank you to Kate Davies-Speak

As a special thank you to Kate Davies-Speak for setting up the #showreelshare day we asked each of our professionals to give feedback on her very own showreel:

Emma Dyson

Good length and variety, although I might be inclined to start your reel with scene 3, as I think this scene is stronger? (Although I thought the sound quite low compared to the rest of your footage, though?) Overall, a good showreel with some nice material throughout.

Rich Mento

Personally, I’d start with the 2nd to last clip – the focus and attention is on you. Keep the 2nd scene, then follow with the rifle one.

The final scene, for me, is unnecessary. It feels a bit B-movie, and with almost no dialogue on your part, coupled with the dark lighting, it doesn’t feel
necessary or informative.

Kahleen Crawford

Firstly, congrats on this brilliant initiative, Kate! Really fantastic.

I can be pretty short and to the point about your reel! My main note is I’d like to know which productions the clips are from.

Otherwise, it’s very simple in its approach, and I’m sure that’s not effortless, so it means it’s cleanly put together. Good overall length, and good scene lengths to help us settle into watching a character.

Down the line, maybe it would be an idea to aim to include more variation on character (rather than just genre/scenario) and maybe accent, if possible? But as it stands, I think your reel gives me a nice introduction to you and would help me choose what I’d want you to tape/meet for. You’ve nailed a straightforward and useful tool in it!

Top Tips

Rich Mento

  • Start with your strongest (acting, production value, camera angle on you) scene.
  • If/when possible, mix up scenes where your character is driving the scene and ones where you’re more reactionary. I want to see both.
  • Pacing and scene progression is important. Have it professionally edited (unless you or a friend is an expert). Keep my attention. Leave me wanting more. The final scene, whether comedy or drama, should feel like an ending i.e. put a “period” on your THIS IS ME statement.

Kahleen Crawford:

  • Make sure it’s well edited – I don’t mean fancy/bells and whistles, just to keep it smooth. Good quality sound, good quality clips, good cuts. It’ll also give a more professional result and make it as easy as possible to watch.
  • Have critical distance – no need to throw in everything you have. Show us useful things where we can really watch you and start to form a picture of what we’ve read about you.
  • It’s good to avoid too much repetition, there’s no harm in keeping a reel shorter if longer doesn’t add to our sense of your range. Also, I’ve noticed over the years that there can be a temptation to rush to shoehorn in moments of high drama and high emotion. They can work in the right places, and very much so when there’s substance to the scene rather than just a flashy moment, but interrogate whether you should have them there. They’re not always a no-brainer for inclusion.
  • Back Up plan – perhaps you don’t have enough material (or maybe it’s not professional) for a reel and you’re worrying. Please don’t. We often just want to see you talking and moving, and a reel isn’t the only way. If we follow up asking for material, you/your agent can’t send us good self-tapes you’ve done recently for other things. You can upload individual self-tapes to Vimeo and have them ready to fire the link (don’t email us videos!) when you’re sending out your CV. We are so used to this now, so all is not lost if you’re not ready for a reel yet. NB Please remember you are responsible for the material you show us – bear in mind non-disclosure agreements you may have signed etc.

Thank you to everyone who put their name forward as part of #showreelshareday! Watch for more great advice on how to make your own showreel, coming soon. Read more about showreels on Spotlight or to find showreel services take a look on Contacts