How to get a showreel
Creating a showreel is an important tool for publicizing your talents and also showing how you look and sound on film to potential employers. It can prove to be a vicous cycle at times, people not considering you without a showreel and not being able to create one without work.
There are other options however. Approaching film schools is a very good way for actors to build a showreel. Students coming through film school don't normally have a budget to pay so they appreciate actors willing to work for free. As an actor in return you get the opportunity to gain footage in a professional production environment. The quality of film school productions is normally very high and you get enough screen time to show what you can do. Often students will offer you a favour in return for your work, for example free editing of your showreel footage once you have it all together, which can be really useful.
If you don't have any success down this route there are many companies that offer a tailored showreel production service. For a fee, they will provide all the equipment and crew, and often other actor's to play your scene off against. Some are based at the big film studios such as Sheperton for an element of prestige but the best way to select is either through referral or from viewing their previous work. You can often take your own scripts if there is a particular scene you want to get on film, or they can normally provide scripts for you but be sure that you get something that reflects your casting as this is what casting directors are considering. Something that shows your full range of ability is ideal and make sure if you do throw in accents that your native accent is first and foremost on the reel.