Dec 09, 2022
Let's Make A Reel

Allan McKay watches demo reels for a living and uses them to staff productions for major studios around the world.

Over the years he’s personally viewed tens of thousands of demos, so he knows exactly what elements a reel needs to get his attention. Here are just a few of Allan’s suggestions...

- Show your best work first. If a reviewer isn’t glued to your reel he's going to move on to the next one. Your goal is to get him or her to watch your entire reel. And for people in the room to say, "This is the best reel we’ve seen!"

- Less is more. Keep your reel between 60 to 90 seconds long. Reviewers may have dozens of reels to watch today. Send anything longer than 90 seconds and they’ll probably skip sections of your best work.

- Tell a story. Allen suggests that you think of your reel as a small movie. So, you may want to make a 60 second documentary. Many great directors started on the short film circuit to get recognition. And were discovered by the big studios.

- Keep your edits tight. Your time should be spent making sure that every shot in the edit is so tight that it keeps viewers captivated to the very end.

- Find the right track. The music on your reel doesn’t matter. Because the reviewer will probably have the sound off when they look at your reel.

- No filler allowed. One weak shot can to cost you a job. So demonstrate the level and standard for the quality jobs you want to attract. Set the bar high.

- Show what you can do. A demo reel demonstrates your ability. The services you can perform. And the end result. Reviewers want to know if you can sit in a chair tomorrow and do the work. Your reel needs to show them you can.

Before you start work on your demo reel, Google companies that specialize in producing demo reels. Look at their work, style, and craftsmanship. And use what you see as Inspiration for the reel you build.

Demo reel companies know what should be on your reel. So, consider having your reel professionally produced. If you're planning to build your own reel and you’re a rockstar editor -- go for it.

If Not…Ask a rockstar editor friend for help. But make sure you spend time leveling. Sweetening audio. Laying in sound effects. And color grading every second of your demo from start to finish.

Your reel has to be pristine. Because professionals will know if it's not!

Produce a great demo reel, and people will find you.