In the following article, I put together 6 helpful tips for making a better showreel. Read on to find out how you can use the current home quarantine to produce a better reel for your filmmaking business.
The current situation around the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic spreading around the world has already affected many industries including our filmmaking industry. Many colleagues now have to spend time at home isolated as lots of jobs have been canceled or postponed.
To look on the bright side, there are always things that can be done even during the home quarantine – make sure to check our previous article on the topic Coronavirus: 7 Things Filmmakers Can Do While All Jobs Are Down. One of the tips my colleague Jeff mentioned, is working on the new reel. Making a new showreel is something many filmmakers are putting off – I am definitely guilty of that. Now that everyone has some spare time, it could finally work out. Let’s take a look at my six tips on how to make a better reel.
1. Only Include Relevant Shots for the Type of Work You Want to Get
This is a very important thing to realize before you start putting the reel together. Answer yourself the question – who do you want to impress and what kind of work you want to get with the reel. Then include only the shots which will get you there. If you want to work as a DP on feature films, include well-lit scenes from a narrative piece you shot. If you want to shoot automotive commercials, include well-executed shots of cars. If you want to work as a colorist, don’t forget to include before/after clips of grading examples.
2. Shoot Spec if You Need Extra Footage
For a reel, you can even shoot spec stuff if you really need to. Simply put, spec is a personal no-budget project where you have a high degree of artistic freedom and you can showcase what you are capable of. For instance, if you want to shoot cars, but you didn’t get any jobs from that segment yet, just do a spec project and include the desired shots in the reel.
3. Keep it Short
Keep your reel short. You should not be afraid to throw away shots if they are not relevant and don’t fit in the reel. Be ruthless when editing. I think, on average, a good showreel should only be around one minute long.
Even when keeping the showreel short enough, don’t cut too fast. Also, don’t just jumble shots together. It is better to rather throw away some shots, than shorten all of them just to keep them in the reel.
4. Catch the Viewers’ Attention at the Beginning
It is important to catch the viewers’ attention in the first few seconds. The first moments will decide whether people continue watching further or not. Include your best work at the beginning. Many professionals say that the first 5 shots should tell everything someone needs to know about you.
Usually, it is good to include very good shots at the end as well. I would include the best ones at the beginning, the next best ones at the end, and the rest in the middle – don’t forget to choose/adjust the music accordingly to match the pace of the reel. If possible, try to group the shots so that they go well together and form a little “stories”.
5. Pay Attention to Audio as well – Fitting Music and Sound FX
This one depends on the focus of the reel. For some roles, like for instance a DP, this is not as important as other factors, like lighting in the shots. Good sound design, however, always makes the reel more interesting. The least you should do is choose a fitting music piece and edit in the visual images in harmony with it.
For a production house offering videos as finished products, complete sound design is quite important in my opinion.
6. Get Feedback from Friends and Colleagues to Improve the Reel Before Publishing
After finishing the first version of the reel, make sure to send it for a review to a couple of good friends or colleagues from the industry. They might give you a few useful hints and tips on how to improve the reel even more. Don’t be too lazy not to adjust and improve the reel before finally sending it out and publishing it. The reel will then be useful for you for quite some time, so make it as good as possible.
One last thing – do not keep your previous reels online once you release the new one. People should only be able to find your latest showreel.
When was the last time you updated your showreel? Are you planning to do it now in the upcoming days? Do you find my tips useful? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.