Anthony Holmes, Showreel Editing

An Editor’s Tips for Show-reel Success

The Artistes Collective were back at Theatre Deli with special guest, show-reel editor, Anthony Holmes, this November. Holmes is a specialist at editing acting reels with over twenty years of international experience helping actors establish TV and film careers. Holmes has worked with an entire spectrum of actors with varying experience, and his editing focuses an actor’s path to the next point of their career. Holmes has edited reels for actors who have gone on to have parts in Doctor Who, The Expanse, Saving Mr Banks, The Crown, House of Cards, Fargo, and many more notable titles.

On his website, Holmes states “A successful show-reel or demo reel is one that helps actors get more work. Using the right clips in the right way maximizes your chances.” 

So the first question you need to ask yourself is “What kind of work are you looking for?” If your look, headshots, and previous acting credits, all point to a romantic hero, and you’ve just applied for five roles of a similar type on Spotlight, you’re going to want a show-reel that highlights your ability to play this type of role. In this instance, there’s no point having a show-reel that showcases your range as comedic sidekicks, evil villains etc. It’s great if you have that versatility, but Casting Directors will have a clear picture of the character in their head, and you need to match that image as close as possible in order to be called in for an audition.

So you need to think about “What does your show-reel showcase?” Hopefully your show-reel already showcases the kind of work you’re looking for. If your reel varies too far outside of that, then you may be the answer to why you’re not getting the work you want. If you’re show-reel doesn’t showcase the level of work you want to get to next - then it’s worth reading over Holmes’ key elements that every show-reel should possess.

·         Be short. (If it’s over 2 minutes 30 seconds, it’s probably too long.)

·         Be tight. Full scenes aren’t needed, just the key moments.

·         Represent your current look.

·         Showcase your type.

·         Show what the Casting Director is casting for.

·         Start with a close up of you.

·         Preferably include a full body shot at some point.

·         Show genuine authentic character moments that are downplayed.

However, before you go off to shoot or re-edit your reel, remember that show-reels are not a “one size fits all,” which is a problem actors commonly fall into. For instance, there is a general rumour to stay away from opening montage sequences, however some Casting Directors like them…and some don’t. What’s important is tailoring your reel to the job you want and the person casting You can find out these preferences by searching Spotlight for the reels of actors cast in projects previously associated with a Casting Director.

The more types of show-reels an actor has, the more versatile they can be in the casting process. Some of these types include:

·         Demo reel; The American equivalent of a show-reel.

·         Action reel;  Showcasing action shots; stunts (which can be a separate reel), weapon handling, combat, etc... They’re faster-paced with less dialogue than a show-reel.

·         Comedy; Showcasing comedy performances.

·         Sizzle reel; Used predominantly for social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Shorter in length (around 30 seconds -2 minutes). Focus is on action, impact and WOW factor.

·         Voice reel; Focuses on the actor’s voice, but again there are multiple types of voice reels; singing, cartoon animation and video games are some.

Regardless of the type of show-reel you currently have, or if you’re looking for advice before building your first one, I hope that this post, and Holmes’ advice, have helped you think about constructing your show-reel effectively.

For my own career progression, Holmes’ session made me recognise that my current show-reel isn’t fully optimised for the next step in my career. However, some tweaking and adding a new scene in the not-so-distant future could improve my casting tenfold.

To find out more about Anthony Holmes’ work and view testimonials, head over to his website:

And follow him on Twitter: @showreelediting 

Matthew Cleverly, @matthewcleverly, March 2019