Showreel Research

I have identified that in order to be taken seriously by potential employers, in the hope of accessing opportunities, I must develop my showreel to showcase my ability in the best possible way.

My current showreel that I made in May was created without any guidance or research, and makes me look unproffessional – each clip plays separately, with different audio for each work. It is far too long and requires me to speak over the clips to give information about each piece. This will be useless when sending my showreel to people online, as I wont be there to guide them through my work.

As a documentary maker, I do however want to show the content of my films as the meaning is one of the most important aspects to me, not just the cinematography. I therefore will also need an online portfolio to showcase my works individually. For this reason I have also been working on a website.

To understand more about how to make a successful showreel I visited these sites, which give really useful tips.

What I took from this research…

– There are two ways I could go about showcasing my work:

‘Demo reels seem to be divided into two types – the rapid fire “collage” type reel that shows quick shots cut to music or the segmented “scene” based reel that shows short samples of clips cut together in some context (for example, several 20 second scenes with multiple shots each). Which is “right” for you?  I’d say it depends.  Typically, the collage type reels work best with spot / commercial / short-form work while the scene reels might be most appropriate to spotlight narrative / documentary / journalism based projects. As a general rule of thumb, for whatever style reel you make, ensure that the clips are “digestible” by the viewer.  Can they take in what’s happening in the footage?  Does it appropriately highlight your abilities?  Whatever you do, pick a style and go with it throughout your reel! ‘

Working mainly on documentaries, I like to focus on the meaning and interviews, so my work is often not visually impressive. Whilst a trailer like montage is not necessarily the best way to show my work, it is an interesting idea and I could use this in places to show the variety of things I have filmed in a short space of time.

I should be creative in my approach to displaying the content, to make me stand out, I could use humour or just an unusual tempo or layout, for example showing different clips in split screens:

I can use lower thirds to explain details, like my particular role in creating each work, who it was for, what equipment or software I used, to highlight companies or people I worked with. These will also help the viewer understand what they are looking at (useful if I am showing my work as a montage).

– Importantly: I should only include my best work, there is no point showing work I am not happy with or that doesn’t show my skills well. The showreel should be kept short 60-90 secs, therefore I am able to show my good work in depth, without having padding it out with lower quality pieces (QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!) This also shows that I am able to communicate well in a condensed amount of time – an editing skill which is valuable.

Put my best work first, the viewer may not have time to watch the whole thing so I should the pieces that best show off my skills and experience at the beginning. This includes mentioning organisations or companies I’ve worked for.

– Although I haven’t had any real, relevant work experience, an interesting idea was to put behind the scenes footage, or photos to show how I work. If in future I get experience shadowing or running, I could demonstrate it in this way.

– Include my name clearly at the beginning with some contact details

Think about aspect ratios! This is something I probably wouldn’t have considered before: if my projects have different ratios I need to make sure I make them fit smoothly, either putting a frame or sidebars around certain pieces. This helps me look more professional.

– Cut to the beat, and make sure I use a royalty free track! I always struggle to find decent royalty free music for my videos but one of the articles suggested this site which looks better than the ones I usually use.

– Ask for critical feedback. I intend to use these tips to amend and transform my showreel. Once I have done this I will send this to people working in the industry in the hope of getting some feedback on how I can improve it, or what it is missing to help me get work.