Rate my profile - I mean reel!
May 6, 2014 8:44 PM   Subscribe

So I finally decided to get off my butt and create a director's showreel - or at least the first attempt at it. I have some questions.

I made (written & directed) some short films at film school, and would like to create a reel to apply to directing positions at one of the many up-and-coming hybrid media companies cropping up everywhere. (I also have a producer's credit on a feature, but I'm guessing this is irrelevant.)

In general, I've heard that unlike a DP's or a Producer's showreel, Director's showreels don't need to showcase many different works - which is great for me, as I've got very, very little to work with. Is this true?

I've also heard that VO commentaries on showreels are now common, though I've yet to see one like that myself. If true, what kind of comments would be appropriate/effective?

Finally, the Rate-My-Profile portion, showreel edition: could those of you who are used to viewing and selecting candidates based on showreels please have a look, and let me know what you think, keeping in mind that I haven't actually edited together a reel so much as just picked a few scenes and put them together back-to-back? Would you be interested to see more based on this, and if not, what would you like to see more of? What makes an effective director's showreel? Is this an appropriate length (2 1/2 minutes), or would you like it longer/shorter?

posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've got very, very little to work with

You know the old cliche about artists being asked why they do what they do, and the answer is, "because I must?" If this is something that you want to do, you need a larger volume of work. The good news is that digital media makes this way easier for you than someone in your position a decade or two ago. But if you're not compelled enough by film to get out there and make it in every spare moment of time you have, seek a different career path, because there are people who are and they will get the positions. This may sound harsh, but right now what you have is not good enough.

Get out there and create music videos for locals bands, shoot the local Shakespeare society, make friends with actors and recreate commercials, famous scenes, popular professional YouTube videos, create opportunities for yourself to do it and learn.

I haven't actually edited together a reel so much as just picked a few scenes and put them together back-to-back

And that's what it looks like, four random scenes slapped together. I don't come away with it with any sense of what you think will sell me on your abilities.

Would you be interested to see more based on this

Not at all. You have four strange scenes that make no sense whatsoever in the given context, shot with dated equipment, with amateur actors. There is very little direct human interaction. The nearly 50 second long phone call shot is uncomfortably long and dull, at least without context. Three of the clips are single shots and the last one that does have different shots, they're all basically the same, just pulling back each time.

what would you like to see more of

At least one stunning piece of visual composition.
Two people having a conversation that's compelling, using multiple standard camera angles and cuts. At the end of the day, most video work is about giving customers what they want, which is generally things that look just like other works.
Something that tells me you can capture something with a sense of motion.
posted by Candleman at 7:34 AM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am not going to tell you if your reel is good or bad. The reason? Because if you don't have enough artistic judgment to decide the merits of this reel on your own, then it's a grim situation. We are not talking about subtle artistic questions - at this level you should at least be able to judge the basics. So my saying "good" or "bad" is not going to help you. What I can do, is tell you what a director's reel should accomplish.

A reel should highlight a particular skill, a reason to take another look. For example, nice camera work. Nice staging. Composition, framing and FOV control. Mood creation. Think of what a director does, and then ask yourself if your reel showcases great ability given what a director is in control of. Imagine that you see a badly lit scene in such a reel. You say "no prob., that's a DP's job, so as a director I'm off the hook". Except you are not, because a director is responsible for the final effect. If you have a badly lit scene it might mean that you don't understand what to ask a DP for, you are unable to guide your DP, you have poor judgment when it comes to lighting etc. Same with all the other elements. Bad acting? Well, you're not off the hook. Why did you pick bad actors? Why didn't you get a good performance out of the actor? Bad music. Why did you pick bad music, do you have really bad taste? Why is the story boring? Do you not know what makes a story interesting? Why is the scene flat, don't you know how to create drama? Etc.

Bottom line, a director is responsible for everything.

Remember, lack of means is not an excuse. "I didn't have the money to get a good actor, script, DP, X". Plenty of great work has been done with minimum means. If you say "no means" it just translates to "no creativity, no ingenuity, no improvisational ability" to a producer or exec.

Now take a look at your reel. Does it showcase the skills of a director? And there's your answer. If you say "no", then start anew, keeping in mind the criteria I outlined above.
posted by VikingSword at 2:16 PM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are you building a reel for? No really, is it for a pro gig or for an obtuse uncomfortable-to-sit-through indie short (yet artistic) to be submitted to a few obscure festivals?

Candlemans suggestion to get out and hustle is the best advice. Find folks that need a director and get the gig through force of personality. Make your own short - but - one that's enthralling that everyone that sees it demands to see it again. Gets many replays on youtube (ultimate example).

Don't use any of these clips.

Put up lots and lots and lots and lots of youtube videos.

Does it need to be super slick? yes yes yes yes yes

NO - if it grabs the audience by the !!! and does not let go.

When you have a couple things that won't let go, you have a reel.

Go for it. Make amazing things. Make stuff that makes us cry. Make me mad. Make me crazy for more.
posted by sammyo at 2:28 PM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Android games for a research study   |   IKEA Down Comforter Question: Will it get... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.