For anyone looking to embark on a career in filmmaking, the best route is usually to enroll on an academic film course. It not only arms you with the skills after graduation to start making your own movies but also shows others in the industry that you have the required knowledge to step behind the camera.
One thing all film students will probably have to do at some point is put together a showreel that showcases their best work to date. Whether you are asked to create one as part of your course or when looking for work post-graduation, knowing how to put together a fantastic showreel is essential.
But what are the best tips for doing this?
Focus on sharp, precise editing
Focusing on precise, sharp editing is a good tip for film students putting together a showreel. It is essential because it keeps the pace of your showreel up and stops it from becoming tedious or too slow. In addition, those looking at the showreel can see your high-level editing skills on display.
If you feel like your editing skills need a lift to do this, take inspiration from up-and-coming young filmmaker Nicholas Otto-Bernstein. As well as working hard to perfect his editing skills at Sacred Heart University, he also sought practical industry experience in the real world to hone his skills. If you do the same, you will be fully conversant in packages like Adobe Premiere when cutting your showreel together.
In the same way as preparing for video production makes sense, you need to get organized when making your showreel. Being selective in the work you include is a good example – but this can be a tough tip to put into action for film students. Although you may think every film or piece of footage you have ever shot is terrific, you need to be ruthless when deciding what makes it into the showreel. It can often be helpful to ask a friend to help choose which footage to include because they will have more of an objective opinion.
When making your choices, remember to focus on why any footage is included and what purpose it serves on the reel. In essence, everything should be there for a reason and to highlight specific skills to those watching. Being strict with your selection process also means only the very best of your work makes it in – which is the whole point!
Think about music
All decent filmmakers know the vital role music plays in their art. As a film student creating your showreel, you should remember that fact. Music is a bit like seasoning in food for movies – you might not always notice it is there, but it makes a massive difference to the end product. The major thing to keep in mind is choosing music that fits the mood of the scenes included in your reel.
It will appear strange if you have happy music in the background, when the scenes showing are more intense, for example. By the same token, sad music playing on your reel when it is a comedy scene will also create dissonance for viewers. You should also choose music that is not too distracting and can sit effectively in the background without taking attention away from what is being shown. You will be fine if you also remember to pick music that is easy to edit.
Keep it short
One of the best tips for any film student making a showreel is to keep it short. You must exercise some common sense here, of course – a reel that is only 30 seconds long is not enough time to show all your talents!
A showreel that drags on for half an hour will soon get boring, and those watching will switch off. The general rule of thumb is to create a reel that is around five minutes long. This is enough time to show what you can do but without it getting too lengthy. If you are selective with your footage, as mentioned above, this is perfectly doable.
Creating a showreel for film students
Learning to create a showreel is vital if you are a student on a film course. This might be something you are shown as part of your course, or it might be something you decide to do off your own bat when looking to graduate. Whatever the reason, putting together a reel of your best work is always handy and can help you get your foot in the door of the movie industry. If you need a few practical tips on how to go about it, the above should help.