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Our top tips for creating your Showreel

So what makes a good showreel? This is quite subjective, as it often depends both on what you are looking to achieve and who your audience is. These aren’t strict rules to stick to but rather good guidelines to follow. I spoke with all of the team at The Crewing Company for their suggestions. We see thousands of different showreels every year and know what our wide range of clients look for or like to see. We’ve featured a few of our own freelancers showreels in this article but to see more of them please click here.

Keep it the right length & pace

No client has time to watch a 30 minute showreel. In the same breath, what are you able to demonstrate in 30 seconds? As a team, we would recommend keeping a showreel around the 1-3 minute mark.
You want your showreel to be fast paced enough to show a range of skills and clips without overwhelming someone watching it. Make sure each clip isn’t taking up too much time in your showreel and that they aren’t repeated.

Don’t save the best until last though as even 3 minutes is too long for some people with busy schedules. Vines are limited to 6 seconds for a reason. You need to grab people’s attention instantly and keep it to watch it all. You don’t want people trying to skip through so keep their attention with relevant, impressive and fast clips. You want to make it personal and unique. It might sound silly but don’t use footage that isn’t yours. It’s like lying on your CV, you will quickly be found out.
It’s a reflection of you and all of your work.

Rich Walker – Producer

Keep it clear

Make sure your name, what you do and any relevant ways to get in touch are on your showreel. You know what you do, you know how people should get in touch and you know what you did in each clip. But it doesn’t mean whoever is watching it does.
I love seeing showreels for Colourists that show before and after, either using a split screen or a wipe to show the beautiful difference.
Within our industry, some people’s roles are not as simple as they once were. You may shoot and edit. You may be able to do graphics. You may direct and produce. Make sure it’s clear on your showreel. Did you do all the graphics? Did you shoot all or only part of the project? Which software did you use? What Camera did you shoot on?
Use lower thirds when appropriate to quickly explain what you did to show off your skills to any potential clients.

Nick Kyriakides – Editor & Motion Graphics Designer

Steve Donlan – Colourist

Keep it relevant

The key is to know your audience. If you are using your showreel to support an application for a corporate, talking head video, the client doesn’t want to see the Go-Pro footage for the sports channel. Similarly, if you are being put forward for a Reality show, the client doesn’t want to see your Dispatches edit. Of course they all demonstrate your ability but a client wants to see why you are perfect for the job, not that you could potentially do it.
You don’t want to be restricted by how you represent yourself in a short snapshot.

But I work with such a range of clients!

Have more than one showreel. Have a corporate one, a broadcast one, a commercial one, a short film one, one for just food content and another for sports.
If you have enough of the footage to do so, have options to send. If you don’t have the range or don’t have access to all of the projects you’ve worked on, then a great way to cover it would be to have a generic showreel but make sure you have other short clips that can always be uploaded to your website or video page and you can point the clients to when working on relevant projects. Don’t expect the client to go and find it all.

Garry Maddison – Colourist & Grader

Keep it consistent

Make sure it is one complete piece. Keep the music the same, keep the cutting pace the same, keep the theme the same. Keep everything a reflection of what you are looking to achieve. Don’t just start cutting, have a plan. Have a “vision” before you start. Once you finish, get some reviews from people you know will be critical and honest before sharing with others. They might see that one frame that you don’t or see a spelling mistake on your name that you hadn’t noticed.
Make sure that the music you are using is appropriate and that you are getting the relevant clearances for your music and the clips being used as well. Don’t use clips from your latest project that hasn’t as yet been released by the client. Mixing sound bites from the original clip audio with the music track, can also work really well.

Keep it up- to-date

“Can you send me your showreel?”

– “Of course.”

“But this one is from 5 years ago…”

– “What’s changed since then? I still did all of the work on it.”

Well quite a lot really. That was 2011. Pre-Olympic glory. Remember that extra bank holiday when Kate and Wills were married? Pre-Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Snapchat hadn’t been invented. You couldn’t use Emoji’s on an iPhone yet. In fact, we were still only on iPhone 4 and could all use the same chargers in peace. Only a handful of companies were using Premiere and the Canon C300 wasn’t even released until January 2012.
In short – It’s dated.
Cameras and software have changed, Brands and television personalities have changed, styles have changed. It will be really clear if your showreel needs updating. A showreel every year is always a great starting point. If you have an online space; be that a website or a Vimeo or YouTube channel, you can always keep it up to date with short examples of work throughout the year.
Show your clients that you are always working on different things.

But I’m too busy…

There are no rules that say you have to create your own showreel. In fact, it sometimes makes sense to have someone else do it who can be more objective about your work.

Our friends at Digital Snowball (gurus of online video) offer a fantastic value showreel cutting service. In fact, many TCC freelancers have used it with fantastic results! For more information please contact