Build and Present a Winning Demo Reel|Build and Present a Winning Demo Reel

Build and Present a Winning Demo Reel

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If you hope to work in the film or video industry, understand right now that demo reels are your primary calling card, your portfolio, your ticket to ride. Typically between one and three minutes in length, demo reels should demonstrate both your knowledge and your skills in a clear, concise, and creative manner. And remember, a high quality, professional reel can make all the difference when seeking that first big break.

Remember that the entire reel is not some kind of artistic statement. It should be a clear and concise presentation of your skills. It's your best sales tool. Keep it short and simple, and include contact information, a resume, or a credit list at the end of the reel.

From Art School to the Workplace
Devin Mann, a cinematographers' agent at Innovative Artists, tells film and video artists that a high-quality demo reel that's completely free of glitches and embarrassing technical issues is the single most critical resource for building and advancing a career. He claims that as many as 50 percent of his industry placements come directly from strong demo reels. Most American companies expect your demo to be presented in VHS reels in NTSC analog format, although many are now accepting digital media as well. If a prospective employer accepts DVDs or online streaming portfolios, by all means provide the one they prefer.

Many artists attach a breakdown sheet with their reels to help explain their involvement in the shot, from digital editing to animation software, and so on.

Be Direct, Be Clean
Imagine that you're a hiring manager for a film or digital video studio who views dozens of reels each week. Strong reels can stand out from endlessly boring, tacky, or tiresome pieces.

It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to build a conservative snoozer. But you should target your reel for the employer, showing segments that best demonstrate your competency. Research your target employer and modify your reel every time.

Some artists divide their reels into multiple sections, showing documentary, beauty shots, montages, commercials, industrial footage, or rock video. A sixty-second montage can work wonders. Be sure to put an appropriate title of the technique or genre for each segment on a title card before the segment begins. You won't need color bars or countdowns.

Many artists use the techniques and skills they learned in film or video college programs to prepare them for the demo reel creation process. Courses such as video production and digital editing can help students put together high-class, attention-grabbing reels that stand out to employers.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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