In today’s increasingly competitive industry, it’s never been more important to have a video showreel as part of your online portfolio. As casting director Dan Hubbard explains: “It is a glimpse into an actor’s work in which we can determine the strength of the actor’s presence and abilities.” A showreel is more than just a collage of clips – it’s an opportunity to show how you move on camera and to showcase your versatility as an actor, things which headshots alone cannot confirm. Your showreel is a representation of you and what you can offer, so you want it to look as professional as possible. Sometimes, an outsider’s eye is exactly what you need to achieve the slick, polished end product you had hoped for. The showreel companies on this list all have different things to offer, and they cover varying price brackets. Do you need everything built – or shot – from scratch? Or just your most recent credit added to your existing reel? In alphabetical order, this guide aims to uncover who is the right editor for you, and which company can meet your specific needs.
The Breakdown: A savvy and accomplished remote-working outfit that understands the demands on actors, offering film and audio enhancement together with the ability to refine a reel through several iterations for a single fee.
ActorShowreels was recommended to us by many actors, who enthused about their service and speed. They work with actors at all stages of their careers, though the clients of top London talent agents like United Agents, Curtis Brown, and ICM feature heavily, and scrolling through their Vimeo page is like flipping through a TV guide – you’ll spot a lot of recognisable faces.
All editing is done remotely – founder Hugh Montini-Lee says: “We want to take away all of the pressure of the studio session and its time constraints.” They’re experienced at editing scenes to increase the focus on you, and they’ll enhance audio and adjust colour to ensure the final output is rendered cohesively and in the highest quality. A helpful feature of their process is the ability – for a set fee – to have a decent amount of back-and-forth in order to mull the running order at leisure, and to get feedback from people like your agent before finalising the reel. This provides you, Montini-Lee says, with “a number of opportunities to revise your showreel so that we can get it into the best shape possible.”
The Breakdown: With high-profile clients, this company can create content, shooting scenes from scratch as well as editing existing material.
United Agents tipped us off about this company, and their client list includes Lesley Manville, Natascha McElhone, Toby Jones, Harriet Walter, and Adrian Lester. Aside from editing existing footage (at £65 per hour), Bespoke Reels also shoot footage from scratch and offer various bespoke options depending on your needs. The founders are a mix of editors, cameramen and directors who claim they “believe in collaboration between editors, talent and agencies allowing for a true flow of ideas.” A distinctive feature is their offer of screen tests – they run a custom-built screen-test suite which can accommodate live-streaming sessions, allowing for direction from anywhere in the world, and they’ve also teamed up with coaching-service Audition Doctor to assist with self-tapes.
If you need material for your reel, ask them for a consultation and check their shot-from-scratch clips. Bespoke will work to get your footage as close as possible to the style which suits you, and they offer consultation on scripts and industry guidance and feedback in advance of the shoot.
The Breakdown: Founded by an actor, this agency offers showreel editing at affordable per-reel flat rates, with scene-enhancement and the ability to shoot mini trailers and promos.
Set up by an editor and a professional actor, Killer Reels aims to offer an actor-tailored service that is both affordable and reliable. With an actor’s direct experience of casting departments and directors, the team have knowledge and understanding of what casting directors are looking for – and crucially, what they don’t have time to see. Killer Reels don’t shoot acting reels from scratch but can film presenters’ reels and mini promos for events or theatre companies. Showreel editing for actors comes up at a flat rate of £90 per reel including consultation, three sets of revisions, and savvy tricks to favour the actor in every scene, like strategic zooming to achieve more close-ups, brightening footage, in-scene editing and altering sound where appropriate.
The Breakdown: An established company which shoots footage from scratch and offers group package deals to enable you to split the cost of a session with another actor.
Mandrake Media have specialised in creating and filming original showreel content for over a decade, shooting everything in 4K with industry-standard film cameras, sound kit and light packages to ensure every piece of footage is of the highest quality. Their website showcases reels shot from scratch which emulate the feel and quality of broadcast television, with many clips indistinguishable from the real thing. Every reel is created and shot by founder Will Kenning, which ensures consistency without getting samey. A single scene costs £440, which is on the higher end of the price scale, but a three-scene package deal feels like good value at £610 if you currently have no footage. They also offer group packages, so if you go in with two other actors, you each get three scenes for £350. For those who have footage and are just looking for an edit, Mandrake charges £75 per hour, estimating that most reels can be completed in under two hours.
The Breakdown: A young and enthusiastic company which shoots compelling scenes from scratch alongside editing existing material for realistic rates.
A small, independent company, run by actor Luke Jenkins, Role Film creates acting showreels with verve and commitment, and many of their original scenes do look like genuine extracts from professional films rather than artificial scenes shot from scratch. “It is important,” says Jenkins, “to develop a scene that you are happy with – that the character, style, tone and energy of the scene is what you are looking for.” They offer a script writing service, too, and will also scout locations for you. Role Films aim to have your final reel completed within one to two weeks, including filming, editing, and colour grading. Rates are competitive, with three original scenes for £620 or editing existing footage for £150.
The Breakdown: A multi-skilled team offering everything from headshots, editing, and scenes from scratch, including a 24-hour service for urgent projects.
Self-Tape started off providing actors with high production-value audition tapes at £30 a pop. They have since expanded to shoot full scenes from scratch and to edit showreels. Founder and actor Will Austin shoots on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, and testimonials from actors who have used his services note his “calming influence” and his “extremely helpful and supportive” approach. Client Amit Shah adds: “Will is an intelligent and versatile actor and it makes all the difference when reading with someone who understands timing and the beats of a scene.” Actor Ophelia Mancini described the original showreel scene shot by Austin as “a big contributing factor as to why my agent signed with me.”
A three-scene reel, shot from scratch, costs £699, but you can split the cost with a collaborator. The material on the self-tape website looks bespoke and convincing, and they’ve clearly worked with a lot of different actors over the last five years. And although they work within a turnaround of two weeks, they also offer a near-miraculous 24-hour edit for an additional £99 per scene – so if you are in need of acquiring clips urgently, this could be the team for you.
The Breakdown: A blue-chip and long-established showreel editor with offices in London and LA and a free air check service.
Anthony Holmes has been a specialist in the field for over 20 years, guest lecturing on showreels at RADA and writing about them in the Bloomsbury’s Actors Yearbook. His company, Showreel Editing, counts names like Sir David Jason among its client list, and while they don’t shoot from scratch, they do edit voice reels and produce sizzle reels. A particularly attractive feature is their free “air check” service – if you’re going to be on television, they can record the scene for you as it transmits, allowing for much better quality than recording onto DVD. They also exude an air of confident accommodation: “We’re there to support you at any time,” says Homes. “Need an urgent re-edit for a casting at 9am tomorrow morning or need your reel to be uploaded at midnight for a US casting director? Just give us a call.” With an office in LA, they can also offer advice on how to cut a reel to appeal to the US market. Showreel Editing charge £80 an hour, estimating between one and three hours to edit an average reel. Their client Waleed Akhtar (Law & Order, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) says: “Never underestimate the value of a good editor – I cannot recommend [them] enough!.” And in the words of T’Nia Miller (Doctor Who, Witless), Holmes is “a genius – and also generous.”
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