As filmmakers and video professionals, we are designed to tell stories. We are driven to capture images that convey a message, a philosophy, or an emotion and sway the viewer into sharing our perspective.
A demo reel is a chance to tell your story and persuade clients to believe your perspective is the best fit for their project. Consider your demo reel your 1-minute visual sales pitch. Make it bold. Make it creative. Make it you.
Here are a few tips to make an eye-catching reel to help you close the deal with new clients.
Don’t Be Humble
Mohammad Ali famously said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” Are you the BEST drone operator? A sick animator? The next Scorsese? Prove it by opening your reel with clips that really pack a punch. Get the viewer intrigued by showcasing your most stellar work immediately. Then keep them hooked by choosing music that compliments your vision, editing to the beat, and intercutting various styles of work that display your diversity as a video expert.
Be sure to make yourself the star of your reel. Boldly announce yourself. Your introduction says a lot about who you are, so be proud to advertise your name creatively on your work. Choose animated fonts or motion graphics that represent your brand and vibe. And, don’t use clips where someone else’s talents can outshine your own work. Be so bold that a client can’t help but remember your name.
Kill Your Darlings
Does it serve the story or is it self-indulgent? Filmmakers need to ask this question all the time, but especially when “pitching” to new prospects. Clients need to be able to trust you to edit wisely and put the project first – not your own ego or agenda. If you’re attached to a shot you think is impressive, but it disrupts the flow of the piece or generally feels out of place – cut it, kill it, let it go.
Focus on ONE skill per reel. No one wants to see a Motion Graphics/ drone/ broadcast reel smashed into one. A client needs to be confident that you can be creative and capable, but also skilled and focused on the one job they are hiring you to do.
Focus on your audience. Not all clients are going to want you to be the Picasso of the video world. Sometimes they just need you to point and shoot. Consider having a cinematography reel that highlights your brilliant, artistic masterpieces and then another reel for straight-laced, clean-cut corporate videos.
Artistic but also practical = hirable.
Most importantly, don’t try to be anyone other than yourself. Slice your best work together in a way that tells the story you want your work to tell. An artful, thoughtful piece that demonstrates who you are as a professional will always have the most impact on the viewer.