: Julia Camenisch's Blog
Like I said earlier, your demo reel has a very short period of time in which to grab a prospective client's attention and convince them that you have what it takes to deliver the goods. So how can you maximize on that short span? 1) Put your best foot forward...ASAP! Make the first 15-30 seconds of your demo reel electric. Your best footage, the best spot you've ever done, the best scenes from your short film - whatever you're putting in, make it, you guessed it, the best. 2) Customize your reel to match your strengths to the client's needs. If the client is looking for someone that is good in corporate video, showing them nature scenes at the get-go probably isn't going to land you the job. I don't mean that you need to put a new reel together for every contract that you're trying to land, but you need to tailor it towards the jobs you really want. This guy
does trailers, so his demo reel reflects that. This guy
is a DP, so again, his trailer reflects his skill in lighting and capturing images. Here's an editor's reel
, so instead of a montage, he uses spots he's edited as examples. Some job specific pointers:
*A director's reel CAN have a quick montage, but people are mainly interested in the outcome of your directing. Include highlights of your work, anywhere from 1-5 minutes in length.
*An editor's reel is demonstrating editing (ergo the name), so it's gotta be cut well, whether you're using a montage or a compilation of short pieces. Show your sense of timing, your ability to tastefully use effects and your storytelling strengths.
*A producer, shooter or DP reel is basically showing how nice the stuff you've worked on is. Do a montage, then have examples of longer pieces available if they want to see more. 3. If you've got a webpage, by all means, include your demo reel on it. Whether through download, embedding or providing a whole gallery, make it easy for others to access your work. Here are some examples of other reels to look over.
*Mike O'Rourke - offering full service production
*Micah Bomgaars - Producer/Shooter
*MDMA Productions - Displaying a gallery of work
I'm sure you've seen this, but if not, it's a gem.
I'm sure you've read it, but it's so good (at least IMHO) that it bears repeating. Mike Curtis over at HD for Indies
, has compiled a list of 10 "don't do" rules for indie filmmakers, based off his experience as a consultant. Since he wrote these as a frustrated rant, it's a bit long-winded, but here's a quick summary of 9 of those rules. Two of them are so similar I didn't bother repeating: 1. Don't use Cineframe mode on Sony HDV cameras - looks bad and isn't true 24p. 2. Shoot your film on 24Pa (Hmmm...this isn't a "don't" - like I said, he was ranting at the time) 3. If using the DVX100, don't do letterbox. Do anamorphic. 4. Don't capture 24p footage as "normal" 29.97 footage. Messes everything up if you're wanting a 24p master. 5. Label your tapes as to what format they were shot in 6. Log your tapes & get advice from "real" editors 7. Low budget, out in the field shooting? Don't use an HVX P2 workflow unless you're got your workflow down and have thought it through completely. (My take on it, not his) 8. Figure out your budget and production plan at the beginning and don't make uninformed changes to that in the middle. Could ruin more than you realize at the time. (Again, my take) 9. Always ask, but if you're turned down, be gracious and understanding. Remember, others who are helping you on the project have to make a living too. You can read the full post here.
Why do you zoom, pan, tilt, dolly-in, or jib-up? I've been wondering recently how often I just shoot without considering how the camera could be used to further my message. How about you? Ever done a nice little pan for no reason other than that it looked cool? That's not bad, but could be shortsighted if you're not taking the overall look and feel of your piece into consideration. I've got two spots for you to check out this week.
http://www.boardsmag.com/screeningroom/commercials/4036/ - This first piece uses very little extra camera movement, and to me, the lack of outside movement keeps you focused on the action. This second spot, +The Cold,+ uses movement to take you on a journey, following the cold germs as they travel from one person to another.
As the old saying goes, you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk...and that applies to video production skills. Even though you know your level of expertise and are convinced of your suitability for a particular job, how does the client or employer determine whether what you say matches what you do? Even quoting past experience and credits might not be enough to sway a skeptical opinion. No, the true key to recognition is in your demo reel. A demo reel allows a potential employer an opportunity to see your work in action and to judge for themselves your artistic abilities. A demo reel gives potential investors confidence that you can carry out what your business plan contains. A demo reel is probably one of the most essential tools in your production arsenal if you're hoping to make money in video. So how do you put a reel together? First, determine what it is you want to do. Are you by trade a shooter? Or an editor? Is directing more your preferred job or producing? Whatever the case may be, the demo reel you create must reflect your skills in the particular area. And be honest! If you simply directed a clip on your demo reel, don't take credit for shooting it. If you helped light a scene, don't make it sound as if you produced it. Next, determine what you have that can be included in the reel. And if you don't have enough material, set aside several weeks to gather and shoot spec material. Keep in mind your dream job. If you'd really like to produce commercials for a living, then produce a spec commercial for your reel. +Here's an example+
. If you'd like to do weddings, then shoot and edit some for free, if need be, and use them for your reel. Your demo reel is your calling card, so make it look as nice as possible and take extra time to polish it. Edit it together to best reflect your preferred job, which we'll discuss more in another post, but suffice to say, an editor's reel will be substantially different from a DP's reel. Show off your strengths so that the viewer will be convinced that you're the perfect man or woman for the job. And keep it short! Very people outside your immediate family will watch a 10 minute reel at the first viewing, much less a potential client. You'll be lucky if they sit through the first few minutes, so make every second count. If they're hooked quickly, then they'll probably watch more. Finally, get feedback from other video professionals. Friends and family members are often a bit biased, but other video professionals can usually give you a much more objective opinion. This step is important. After working on your reel for several nights and days, it's hard to accurately judge it. Getting an unattached viewer will give you a more realistic picture of how effective your demo reel truly is. Get those creative juices going and put your demo reel together! If you have one available, send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org
+Here's a bit of news+
from Ars Technica
about the unfolding opportunity to make money from YouTube. It'll be interesting to see what the terms of the deal are - I'm sure the ad revenues won't be enough to allow you to quit your day job...unless of course you can come up with a really, really good video. When I get my current doc project finished, I might post to see if I can make any pocket change.
Video Producer, Writer & best of all, a mom.