In addition to having a well-written CV, it is also essential for any media professional to have a good showreel. Whether you are an editor, cameraman, motion graphics artist, director or producer, a good showreel is vital for securing your next freelance gig.
Is there is a ‘perfect length’ for a showreel? Perfect, possibly not but our recommendation is 90 seconds. Any shorter and your reel starts to feel empty and any longer and people start to switch off. The same as your CV, recruiters will be looking at hundreds of showreels each week and don’t have the time to sit through 5 minutes of your greatest work. Now, while you don’t need to stick strictly to 90 seconds, this is a good benchmark to use. If you’re just starting out, then 60 – 90 seconds is about right. If you’ve been going for a while then 90-120 seconds is also fine. Try not to go over the 2-minute mark. Most recruiters will have made their mind up in the first 30 seconds and will almost certainly be on to the next reel after 2 minutes.
This is the next most vital choice after length. Choose a good soundtrack! As a general rule of thumb you want something upbeat and fast paced so you can cut quickly to the beat. This allows you to squeeze all your best content in to a short amount of time, which is vital for hitting that 90-second benchmark. A lively showreel is also much more likely to hold a recruiters attention and gives you a much better chance of them reaching the end and giving you a call. Again, this is general advice. If you’re looking to secure an edit job on a long-form period drama then this upbeat style probably isn’t the way to go. Use your best judgment.
Can I use commercial music in my showreel?
Strictly speaking no, unless you license appropriately through the MCPS (PRS for music). Music artists like any other creative professional need to make a living from their craft. Using someone else’s music to advertise and promote your services without the appropriate licensing is against the law. That said there are loads of alternative options out there and many sites dedicated to providing library or royalty free music. Check out the likes of Audio Network, Audio Jungle or even iStock for some great music options.
Firstly, it goes without saying but make sure you use the best content in your showreel. Try to build in as much variety as you can and really show off your versatility. Like with your CV, keep it short and concise and continually ask yourself, is this relevant?
Secondly, avoid duplication. If you’re running low on material then just have a shorter showreel. Honestly, its fine. Quality over quantity. Putting in different scenes from the same project is noticed and makes it look like you don’t have enough work to showcase.
Lastly, be honest. Don’t use content in your showreel that isn’t yours and try to avoid portraying something you didn’t do. The use of lower third text is really useful here because you can outline exactly what you did on a particular project and who the end client was. We want to see more of this!
IMPORTANT! Put the best content right at the START of your reel. This all goes back to the recruiter watching reel after reel and reading application after application. You only have 10 seconds to grab someone’s attention when watching video so make sure you have your best, most current and relevant work at the top. Don’t opt for the ‘slow build’ and the ‘save the best until last’ approach, as there is no guarantee the person watching will get to the end.
That said, you do want your showreel to have a natural pace and progression so save your second best work for last. If you hooked a recruiter at the beginning, you want them to remember you so have something to stand out at the end as well.
The rest of your work can then sit nicely between these two bookends…
It is important to choose a good platform to showcase your work in HD. Always try to go with a known provider whose servers are designed and optimized for delivering high resolution video content. The two main players at the moment are YouTube and Vimeo and both are very good. Vimeo has some nice privacy options though so worth considering if much of your work is subject to non-disclosure agreements.
Do I need a website?
Generally speaking no you don’t but if you want to portray that added professionalism and stand apart from other candidates then it is a good idea. Setting up and maintaining a website will cost you money though so for those just starting out, a Vimeo account or YouTube channel is fine. Signing up and networking on LinkedIn is a must for everyone though so do this now if you haven’t already.