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Getting Work

Casting Associate Ri McDaid-Wren and Spotlight’s Emma Dyson Review Your Showreels

Thousands of you entered our #showreelshareday competition on Wednesday 21st February, for the chance to win one of three showreel reviews by Ri McDaid-Wren. Due to overwhelming demand, we asked Spotlight’s resident careers expert and former agent, Emma Dyson, to also review four more! Watch the showreels and read the reviews below.

Ri’s reviews

Cara Jayne Readle ProFile Performer

‘Great clips, and nice selection. Personally, I like to know what I’m watching, so appreciate when each clip is titled. It might be a good idea to re-order slightly so that there is more of a contrast between the first and second scene – realistically we often don’t have time to watch full showreels, so if the second scene seems very similar to the first we might stop there. 1:46 is the first moment we see a more upbeat, humorous side – maybe that would be more helpful earlier on.’

Dominic Burgess

‘Great selection again! Usually, as a rule, I like the first clip to be as natural and close to “you” as possible e.g. own accent etc. But if there’s an exception to the rule then big shiny scenes with Susan Sarandon have got to be it! Again, potentially some re-ordering might be helpful as the first two clips are fairly similar in both accent and character vibe, so maybe ‘The Good Place’ then ‘Maron’, after ‘Feud’, means those in a hurry are less likely to miss your range.’

George Sesay

‘At the risk of repeating myself – I’d suggest titling your clips, as it’s helpful to know what we’re looking at. For me, your third clip starting at 1:28 feels the most natural, so I’d probably start with that. But we get a good feel for your cheeky/quirky vibe overall!’

Emma’s reviews

T’Jean Uter Dinh

‘Nice opener with Nikki Amuka-Bird, which leads into your second scene (the short film), which is delightful and plays to the cheekier side of your casting. Overall, you have a very strong showreel; the quality is good, and it demonstrates that you have a strong comic flair. My only thought was to maybe cut the end scene (‘World’s Most Evil Killer’) and end it with ‘Peninsula’.’

Steven Calvert

‘I would be inclined to maybe re-order this reel? I think Steven’s strongest scenes are two and three, so would start with scene two, then three, and scene one at the end. Scene one is also very quiet – perhaps check the sound levels on this. I like the mixture of what you’re doing with your scenes and as a big fan of the ‘short and sweet’ showreel, I think it’s a tidy length, coming in at 1:17!’

Rajesh Kalhan

‘I really like the opening scene. It’s very strong and sits at the seat of your castability. The move into scene 2 contrasts beautifully. I’d be inclined to cut the ‘Mexican Kingpin’ scene as I don’t think that the quality’s that great, and you could afford to shave a bit from your reel. Ending on the Stormzy video gives it an upbeat finish!’

Yana Penrose

‘I think your strongest scene is number three, so would be inclined to start with that, then scene two. The audibility moving into scenes four and five is very low. Can you tweak this to bring the levels up? I like the monologue straight to camera and it shows your vulnerable side, contrasting nicely with the rest of your scenes. If some of the sound could be corrected, I think you have a strong reel, and at 2:48 comes in at a good length!’

Ri’s Top Tips

  • Please no montages! The second I see a montage start, I skip forward 30 seconds. They really give us nothing to go on, we need to see you talking.
  • Remember, a showreel is not an audition, but a chance for us to get a sense of you as a person and an actor. Therefore, very intensely dramatic/emotional scenes are often less helpful than straightforward dialogue, particularly at the start of your showreel. However moving/thrilling these scenes may have been in the production itself, out of context they can be a little jarring.
  • Your shiniest credit is not necessarily the best thing to show first if you didn’t have as much to do in it. We’ll be looking at your CV, so if you’ve had a role in a big film or TV show we’ll see that anyway.
  • Cut out any long periods of no dialogue/other people talking. It doesn’t matter if the scene doesn’t make total sense, we’re not there to watch the programme/film. If you haven’t spoken for 10 seconds, I’m going to skip a minute ahead to see what else there is, and then I might miss the bits you want me to see!

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. 

About Ri: Ri has over 5 years of casting experience working as an associate with Andy Pryor CDG. She has been part of the casting team on projects including Doctor Who, Cucumber, Hard Sun, W1A and Call the Midwife.

About Emma: Emma Dyson trained at the Guildford School of Acting. After working in other areas of the arts, she became an agent, and has an invaluable perspective on portfolio photography, showreels and presentation. Emma has been the Performer Consultant at Spotlight for 7 years and holds career advice sessions with actors every Monday.