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These are crazy times, and a lot of us are working from home or have extra time as filming projects get postponed. Downtime is a great time to better our businesses and work on personal marketing, and a lot of us are working on updating our demo reels!

I know how helpful a second pair of eyes can be for getting that extra polish, so the last several weeks I helped host a panel of filmmakers (including Evan Bourcier and Jesse Oxford) taking time to review and give ideas on the reels you guys submitted. We had some wonderful discussion –  and today – I want to give you guys some key takeaways from the live streams:

Refine your reel replay: part 1

Refine your reel replay: part 2


JESSE: The goal of a reel is to represent yourself in the best light of what you are capable of.
You tend to get hired for more of the same work you’ve done in the past. If you aren’t looking to do more of something, don’t put it in your reel.
EVAN: It’s easy for a reel to be a bragging piece to your peers…but you need to keep in mind what your potential clients are looking for.

Tips for your next reel:

  1. Keep it short… 60-90 sec and on the long side 2 min, Evan: “you want them to want more rather than click off of it.”
  2. Use your best clips in the first 10-12 seconds, and maybe show some variety
  3. Focus, don’t include everything, it can be helpful to have separate reels for narrative and corporate projects.
  4. If you are focusing your reel on one style beware of it feeling like all the footage is only from 2-3 projects.
  5. When showing a variety and breadth of work you will also want it to feel cohesive and intentional.
  6. JESSE: “Unless you specialize in weddings, you don’t need to include that in your reel. If the rest of the reel is good people will assume you can do weddings too.”
  7. Make it stronger! When you have a cut you like, you should probably cut out another 20%. EVAN: I like to ask myself “what is this shot saying to my client or showing about my skill set.”
  8. In addition to how it looks, think about how your reel feels. Go beyond lots of “cool shots” and look for ways to find symmetry in colors, movement, and visuals.
  9. JESSE: It can be helpful to create mini-sequences with several shots together from the same project.   This can show that you are competent at telling a story more than individual images.
  10. Even if you specialize in a specific art discipline, realize that all elements of your reel contribute to the perception of your work, the color, editing, dp work, sound, and music all matter.
  11. JESSE: “For DPs think about the edit structure and try to not have all static shots, it helps to have in a camera move every 3 shots so people can get a feel for your camera style.”
  12. EVAN: “When I’m working on a new reel, I always start with the song.” It’s great to find a piece that has some variety that you can match the edit to.
  13. JESSE: “We have always custom scored our reels, but our most recent one…we used MusicBed.”
  14. Licensed music or custom music is clearly the best option vs using copyrighted music.
  15. Include your name, logo, or some way to contact you, maybe a website and/or phone number.

I hope this is helpful as you showcase your best work!

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