Thursday, February 04, 2010

Showbiz and Showreels

A lot of the work that we do in the agency consists of submitting actors for jobs. Sometimes casting directors contact us looking for actors for a certain project. We also pay for several casting breakdown services which are emailed into the office several times a week.

Occasionally casting directors will ask if the actor has a showreel.

Showreels are generally comprised of several clips from television or other screen work, which show the actor in different roles. Sometimes they can be really useful: sometimes not. Really they're only useful for getting the actor more of the same kind of roles that they've had already.

So, for example, I want to submit an actor for a tragic role in something - - - and their showreel is all comedy. I know that they would be excellent in the tragic role - but it's hard, from the showreel, to "sell" the idea to a casting director.

In the Olden Days of about fifteen years ago, it was very tricky for actors to make showreels, and expensive too. What they tended to have was a bulky VHS tape of some television show that they had been in, and they only ever had one copy which of course was very precious to them.

Here's my True Confession.

Once upon a time, in about 1995, an actress applied to the agency and gave us her showreel - which was an episode of a television soap - to look at. Her application was, quite frankly, not terribly good and we were really only watching the clip so we could tell her we'd seen it and unfortunately - - - etc. Of course, there was always the slim chance that it might be brilliant.

I was always very good at looking after such showreels and sending them back to actors in padded Jiffy bags, because I knew how important they were to the actors involved. This particular actress, in fact, had said in her accompanying letter that the tape was particularly precious to her because it was her big television break and her only copy and she had left it set at the beginning of her one scene - - - only one scene, but she thought it showed her off really well - -

An actor who was in the agency at the time was staying with us that night. I'll call him Paul - - because, in fact, that was his name and I'm not taking all the blame for this.

So he put the video in the huge clunky video recorder that we had then, whilst I was in the other room.

"I've set it to play," he said, "but it doesn't seem to be what she said it is."

So I finished making the coffee and slowly wandered into the living-room to have a look.

He had somehow managed to set it to record and by the time we had thought about it and reached this terrifying conclusion, it had recorded over her entire scene, from the beginning to the end.

We just stared at each other in horror. And then - even worse - we started to laugh, because it was so awful. And then we couldn't stop laughing. We hated ourselves - - but we were hysterical.

Eventually I wrote her a very carefully-worded grovelling apology and hoped I'd never see or hear from her again. And I didn't - - - until a few years later, when she was in a class I was running about actors' agencies. It was very, very hard to look her in the eye.

Anyway, here is one of our actor's showreels, so you can see what they look like these days. There are a few good actors' showreels in the agency, I'm pleased to say, (including one of someone who reads this blog!) but I thought I'd better not use hers - - so here's a different one.


Anonymous mumof4 said...

I must be very tired as I completely mis-read this.

I understood, "Occasionally a director will ask if an actor has showered....."

7:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your stories... and the way you tell them.

9:47 pm  
Blogger Jennyta said...

And there's Jill Swinbourne (aka Barbara Flynn) from the Beiderbecke trilogy!

10:17 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Well you learn something every day. Jill Myers seems to a have a wide range. Do you think there's any chance she could play a nubile lapdancer to an audience of one? I would gladly pay the minimum wage and provide her with a cup of tea and a biscuit afterwards.

11:50 am  
Blogger Katherine said...

..Still chortling over YP's request...

That was really interesting Daphne. A glimpse into another world. Thanks!

7:58 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Mumof4 - well, that too may be possible. Something to do with the legendary casting couch, perhaps.
Lucy - thank you! Much appreciated.
Jennyta - yes, Barbara Flynn, it is indeed.
YP - you'd have to negotiate the fee with her agent - me! And you know what agents are like. You couldn't possibly afford it.
Katherine - I'm glad you enjoyed it, thank you.

10:01 pm  

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