Friday, March 4, 2011

On Making a Director's Reel

As I dive into developing my first feature film and seek to connect with investors and other potential team members, I have decided to put together a new demo reel that specifically showcases my work in directing narrative film projects. In fact, just this week, this new reel just hit my IMDb profile, along with my Cinematography Reel. Click here to see the reel on IMDb or watch it bellow:

But an important question comes to mind. Are demo reels as effective for directors as they are for cinematographers, editors, and actors?

For the editor and cinematographer, demo reels can quickly show off both technical expertise as well as aesthetic ability to create something with polish and style. For the actor, the demo reel is a quick way to showcase types of roles one has played and glimpse variety and range as well as the type of productions one has been cast in.

But what about the director? I have seen a few reels out there for directors. But it can be a little more tricky. If I'm being honest ... Yes, I did put together a director's reel, and I hope it can be useful for grabbing some people's attention. But does my director's reel really provide a good look at whether or not I have what it takes to carefully and artfully direct a feature film? Probably not.

The truth is, I don't kid myself. If someone really wants to see for themselves if I have any chops as a director, their best best is to actually watch a couple of my short films so they can see the flow of a whole story from start to finish, see how the pacing and choices in camera placement, acting, editing, and so forth all affect the telling of the story. In essence, they need to see a whole film to see the choices of the director and determine if these choices helped or hurt the telling of the story. Only in doing this can someone ultimately figure out if a given director has talent. I'm no exception!

Another perspective is that often trailers for one's films are a better attention grabber than a demo reel when it comes to one's work as a director. I certainly see the point here, and this why I do have a Trailer Reel page on my website. In fact, as far as grabbing people's attention and gaining their interest in seeing more of my work, I would say, trailers are probably far more affective than a demo reel.

Here's a trailer for my short film, "Always Reaching," for example.

So why do I have a director's reel? Because, in the words of a good friend of mine, "it can't hurt." In this day and age, it is best to have multiple means by which people can be introduced to your work. It took me very little time to put together my director's reel and having another tool in my arsenal is helpful. So basically, why not have one? It's all about trying to make a good first impression.

In the end, my hope is that people who are genuinely intrigued by my trailers or demo reel will take a crack at watching one of my films. Especially if they are considering whether or not I might be worth the investment when it comes to funding a feature film. I would hope they make an informed decision. 

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