Filmmaker showreel: What makes a good showreel?

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Filmmaker showreel: what makes a good showreel?

A good filmmaker showreel presents your skills to potential clients and employers. It provides a snapshot of your work, and it’s a way for you to show off what you’re best at.

If you’re in the process of building a demo reel, or are planning to create one, here are some demo reel showreel tips.

This article is aimed at aspiring filmmakers. If you’re an actor looking for information about making actor showreels, head over to our article about making a showreel for actors.

So filmmakers, without further ado, what makes a good showreel?

Showcase your latest work

Keep your demo reel up to date. Potential employers and clients don’t want to rely on what you did ten years ago. Out of date material raises a lot of questions about your skills and experience.

Add contact details to your demo reel

Make sure your name and contact information is on the demo reel. Don’t make potential clients search for the information – it gives them an excuse not to bother. They want to hire someone who pays attention to detail and makes life easier for them.

The right length for filmmaker showreel

You have between one and three minutes to sell yourself through your showreel. Any longer, and attention has waned. Your potential client is busy and could be looking at several demo reels in one day.

If you think that isn’t enough time to showcase your talents and skill, take a look at the Cut Media showreel which packs a punch in just one minute and thirteen seconds:

Cut Media: Showreel, Cut Media on YouTube

The pace of a good showreel

Grab the viewer’s attention immediately, and keep the pace fast enough to retain attention throughout.

Identify potential client needs

If your potential client for a corporate video wants to see the quality of work they’ll receive. A film director wants to see what you achieved with short films. They all want great production value but need different skills for a documentary, tv shows, website sales video, music videos or commercials.

A montage could work, but may make your filmmaking narrative too confused. You might need to make more than one good showreel if you’re seeking more than one specialism of film job!

Check all copyright issues

Don’t use music, dialogue or images in your showreel if it’s subject to copyright owned by other people, unless you have permission.

If you’re filming a showreel scene specifically for your demo reel, think about these issues before you pick up your camera. The music you use can determine the images you want from the shoot.

Your most recent work for TV or film may be subject to restriction for a lengthy period until the public screening period has passed.

Showreel production

If you don’t have a good filmmaker showreel you’ll have to create one, even if it’s volunteering to get the experience and footage. Make a Facebook video advert for a local business, for free. Or make a short film, and if it’s good then submit it to a suitable film festival. Drama students and actors without experience jump at these opportunities in Facebook filmmaking groups. You can even just volunteer for someone else’s project, perhaps working with students at film school.

Then you’ll need to spend time editing the footage into a good showreel, using the principles above. Watch lots of showreels on YouTube and Vimeo to gain an appreciation and understanding of what a good show reel looks like.

Alternatively, pay an experienced company to produce your filmmaker showreel from your footage. If you go down this route though, choose carefully, plan thoroughly, and set out your expectations and requirements clearly.


Thanks to Chris Schuepp for the photo of Kamilla used under CC BY 2.0 license.