demo reel tips

Ingredients for an Impressive Demo Reel


A demo reel is the best way to showcase your talent to potential clients. Whether you’re a filmmaker or a designer, a demo reel is a must so your clients can quickly see your previous works without going through a pile of DVDs. So basically, your demo reel is meant to make your potential client’s life easier and, above all, it is meant to impress them.

Here are some tips for creating an impressive demo reel:

1. Concentrate on the first 30 seconds. Do not just showcase one or two videos in the first 30 seconds of your reel. The first 30 seconds should “summarize” the whole reel and should contain the best parts only. Clients and employers have been viewing lots of reels all their life. They have sharp instincts and little patience. Impress them during the first 30 seconds of your reel and you just might get their call.

2. Keep it under 2 minutes. Yes, I know you have lots of great skills you want to show-off in your reel but choose the best of the best only. If you make it longer than 2 minutes, the impact of your demo reel starts to wane (even if you’re first 30 seconds is powerful). So keep it short and sharp.

3. Make different reels for different roles. Some filmmakers have so many skills and want so many positions. They are the jacks of all trades. This isn’t a bad thing. You’re actually lucky if you are one. But, do not show this in your reel. If you’re sending a reel for a company that’s looking for a cinematographer, only show them your cinematography skills. Not PD skills, not directing skills, not editing skills. If you’re sending a reel to Pixar for an animation job, only send them animation work. This is pretty obvious but some filmmakers only make one reel with a little bit of this and that. This is not the way to go. Make one reel for every position you like.

4. Put the Names of your Big Clients. Did you work with Disney or a big TV network? It would be ridiculous not to put their names in your reel. But once you’ve put a client name, make sure you do the same with the rest, or at least half of it. It will surely look awkward if you only put 2 client names in the 20 videos you showcase.

5. Don’t Steal. It is unethical to put a video of your friend’s work (maybe film classmates in college?) and claim it as yours. Even if your friend agreed to it, people will eventually find out sooner or later. Put your reel on your website and people will surely find out and start talking. This is a big industry but word travels fast-especially if it’s something bad. Another thing: Don’t steal music. Don’t use copyrighted music. It is illegal and will likely turn off some employers. Use royalty-free music instead. You can get them online.

6. Put it in a Good-Looking DVD Packaging. A good reel is a good reel and a bad reel is a bad reel, right? Of course! But for a good reel to really get noticed and gain extra points, you have to show that you’re not just good in filmmaking. You have to show these guys that you’re professional and that you do care about aesthetics (you’re a filmmaker after all!). A good DVD packaging also shows that you’re willing to invest in your career. It may also reflect your personality and show that you are responsible and smart. A good- DVD packaging can’t save a bad reel but it can surely validate a good reel.

7. Highlight Your Contact Info. On your website, make sure that your contact info is very easy to find. To test this, ask your grandpa or 7-year old brother to locate your contact details after watching your video. This is common sense I know but some blogs and websites have contact info links that are quite difficult to find. If you’re sending DVDs, make sure your website and contact info are visible in your DVD packaging, DVD label, and in the video itself.
There you go,folks! I’m sure your demo reel will be impressive if you follow these steps. It also helps if you watch and study good demo reels. It’s time to compile those footages and make a kick-ass demo reel.

There you go,folks! I’m sure your demo reel will be impressive if you follow these steps. It also helps if you watch and study good demo reels. It’s time to compile those footages and make a kick-ass demo reel.


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