A Demo Reel is a shortened collection of your work, no longer than 3 minutes (this is not a movie, and you don’t want them to fall asleep!) in VHS/DVD format that highlights your strenghts, experience, and shows off your skills.
With that said, here are a few demo reel tips:
* Keep it short
A few minutes of your best work is what they want to see, shorter reels gives them a taste of what you can do…it may even make them want to see more and in many cases will call you to invite you to an interview. If you have a very long reel, they will quickly hit the eject button, and probably wont even want to see anymore of you at all. Just keep in mind that the person looking thru demo reels (many times 20+ in a day) does not always have time to look at a full reel, and will make a decision by the first 30 seconds after your reel starts playing. My reel is 2 minutes and 50 seconds long (and I have 12 years of work in there!) . It is short, and to the point.
REMEMBER: You don’t want to put EVERYTHING you ever created…just choose your best work! (shorter is always better).
* Show Your Strengths
If you have an expertise in a particular area, such as lighting or modeling, show it off by the work in your reel.
Depending on what you show them, they will place you in that department…so if you hate modeling but love motion, show more motion…you don’t want them to stick you into the modeling department where you will be very unhappy. Most studios are department specific, so If you have multiple talents, make sure you create separate reels per department that you are applying. Also, remember to make a note of your areas of interest in your cover letter.
* Annotate Your Reel
Sometimes you may do a group project with other peers, when you show the work, people will ask you what your active part was in that piece…so be ready to explain what you did and don’t take credit for someone else’s work…your peers will not be very happy with you, and believe me, those little sneaky no no’s get around in the industry.. FAST! Believe it or not, there has been times when someone that is reviewing demo reels sees THEIR shot in someone else’s reel…and since the artist claimed it was their work, it will make them look VERY bad, and worse of all even get blacklisted from that studio.
Include a page of notes that indicate your contribution to each piece in your reel (this is called a demo breakdown). Be honest, if you did the matchmove and not the lighting, explain you did the “matchmove” on the shot. Include information on the software used in each piece, and remember to INCLUDE YOUR NAME in everything you send them.
Usually, when you do research on the web for companies, they will have a job opportunity link, there you can find out what they want and what openings they have available for you. Most companies usually have a description of what the job requirements are.
Here at THESCRATCHPOST we will try to give you all the dirt on the companies. Be sure to visit the company listings pages, where you can get a bit more information about certain companies and also a link to their website if they have one.
If you live in California, you can go to the local bookstore and find a copy of LA 411. This book gives you a listing of all the FX houses all over CA, such as their phone numbers, address, and what they specialize in. It is very helpful, specially if you decide to send out 100 resumes to all the houses you find! (Yup, it is not uncommon to send out a large amount of resumes and get back only 1/4 of a response).
Keep in mind that companies usually take more than a week or two to answer you back.. so don’t expect them to call you 2 days after they receive your resume and demo reel. Companies usually receive 50-200 reels and resumes sent to them a week…some companies even more! So be patient.
It still doesn’t hurt to call them or e-mail them to inquire if they received your reel and resume after a week. It will show them you are interested and mean business. (Just don’t call them everyday, they will get sick of you and ignore you)
If you would like to get some more tips on demo reels from the files of a recruiter, be sure to visit our demo reels do’s and don’ts article or do a search for demo reels in our search engine
So, you are now in the waiting period…refreshing your email inbox and checking your voice mail.. Then one day…they call or email, and invite you to visit them on an interview!!!
Don’t panic! They just want to know more about you and meet you. In the interview page, you will find a few tips on how to deal with the big day!