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7 Rules of demo reel

What is a demo reel?

Demo reels, or showreels, allow you to showcase your work to prospective clients or employers in a short video of 1-2 minutes. You should include your best work, your style, and your diverse range of skills… In reality, it’s not so simple to come up with something that will get you noticed and get you hired.

So what goes into a great reel? Below are our 12 rules for success.

Rule 1: Start strong, and create a great first impression

Put your best work first and last. Most studios will likely invest about ten seconds into watching your reel. If they see weakness at the start, they won’t keep watching. So, start strong, and be sure to grab their attention.

Rule 2: Avoid mistakes

If in doubt… leave it out! If your demo reel has mistakes in it, the studio will notice, and they will weed out your reel. Why? Because they will assume one of two things: either you saw the mistake but could not fix it, or you didn’t see the mistake at all. Either way, your reel is in the bin.

Rule 3: Customise your reel for the job

Don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ demo reel. Re-edit your reel to suit the job you are applying for. If you’re applying for a job at Pixar, your reel should be very different to the one you submit to Framestore. Why? Because Pixar specialise in cartoony animation, whilst Framestore tends to do photorealistic creature work. Customise your reel to suit the studio. On your blog or website you should have a reel for character work and one for creature work. Don’t confuse the two.

Rule 4: Be online

DVDs and paper portfolios are history. Your reel should be easy to find; hosted at your blog or website. Nowadays, you also need to be on LinkedIn. Recruiters live on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to state on LinkedIn that you are available for work, and include a link to your reel.

Rule 5: Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity

A short reel with a few good shots is much better than a long reel with many weak ones. Remember that studios will not look at a long reel, at least not all the way through. Polish and perfect what you have, and discard the rest.

Rule 6: Show your name and contact details at the front and at the end
Include Contact Information
Even if you have provided contact information in your CV, add it to the demo reel as well. Those who view the reel may not have all the documents at hand. And you don’t want small technicalities like this to get in the way of your being employed.

The end of your reel is the best place to include your name, email address, phone number, website, and other contact details. If you don’t have a professional website yet, you can create it yourself with an online website builder. With ready-made templates, all you need to do is personalize the content and add your own domain.

In case you’re represented by an agent or agency, add their contact info to the end screen instead.

Rule 7:Careful With Music
Is your demo reel asking for music? In some cases, a music track can act like glue, making a reel more cohesive. In other cases, it simply distracts. Adding music to actor reels is out of the question (unless you’ve played in a silent film). But if you’re an editor, animator, or cinematographer, smart use of music may improve your reel.

What’s important here is not to slam a music track onto your material once you’ve already finished editing it. Instead, decide on the piece of music from the beginning and cut your demo reel to its rhythm. Here’s an example.

learn to improve your demo reel

A well-made demo reel can make all the difference between getting the job of your dreams and not. Whether you’re an actor, film director, model, or photographer, a high-quality reel showcasing your best work can help you get noticed.

Even if your portfolio is still limited, a polished reel that follows all the tips we shared will certainly boost your chances. Therefore, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward from the first frame to the last.

Also, don’t neglect feedback. It can be very helpful both when selecting clips to include and figuring out what can be improved in the final product.

Do you want to make your demo reels stand out? Learn about animation to enrich your demo reels! join us!

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