How to Create an Awesome Showreel

showreel editing

A showreel or demo reel is like a video CV you send to employers, showcasing your skills and creativity. It’s a way of promoting yourself and demonstrating your experience in a very short space of time so it needs to make an impact. But what’s the best way to go about it? Here are our top 6 tips for creating a showreel that will blow their socks off!

Keep it short

A common mistake is trying to include all of your work and accidentally pushing the duration over 5 mins. Employers will have seen a fair amount of showreels by the time they get to yours so ideally you would want to keep it under 3 mins. This will ensure you keep them engaged and hungry for more rather than turning off too early.

Best foot forward

As mentioned the person watching your showreel has a limited amount of time so the first 30 secs needs to contain your best brands/shots as they might not make it to the end. It’s all about showing off so don’t get attached to material that ultimately doesn’t showcase your best work (even if you have an emotional attachment to it!).

Tailor made

Find out what the recipient (production company, creative agency) are looking for in terms of content. When you know this you can select the best footage and customize your showreel to fit the job (e.g promo, documentary, commercial, sport, feature film). It may benfit you to have a few different showreels ready to hand, allowing you to apply to a variety of jobs. Also think about the kind of projects you’d like to work on, and build your reel with clips that will help you secure that kind of work in the future.

Not another montage

Your showreel is a collection of different projects, not just a video clip reel. Assaulting the employer with a barrage of short clips, makes it hard for them to get a real feel for your individual talents. You want to give your them a greater sense of what it is you can do and impress them with a structured narrative and a sense of drama. Mashing everything together in an unorganised mess shows a lack of creativity.

Here is a great example from Cinematographer Kiel Alexander Milligan

Your role

Video is a collaborative medium so obviously showreels are composed of work that has usually been a group effort. As such you need to make people aware of what exactly it is you did within each clip and how key your role was in the production (do not try to pass off someone else’s work as your own). The best way to do this is to use short text descriptions over each clip to denote your role and explain what work was done. In addition to this (particularly if you have a lot of animated work) using a few screen captures showing the different stages of your work can really help show off your talent.

Be critical of your showreel

Watch it back a few times and look for areas which can be improved, enhanced or trimmed. Video is subjective so show it to your friends and colleagues to see if it impresses them or if there is anything that doesn’t look right. Use their feedback to really polish your showreel, no one will take it serious if there are errors or dodgey transitions. Finally make sure you keep your reel updated and ensure your latest work displaces your older stuff!


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