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Building a Film Editor's Reel

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Bryan McClurgBuilding a Film Editor's Reel
by on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:42:45 am

Fellow cows,

I am currently building a demo reel as an editor (with some small example of visual effects experience). But mostly, I'm focusing on basic video editing - short films, commercials, documentaries. I edit with Final Cut 7 and After Effects 6. While I know demo reels vary depending on the job, my question is: what specific things should I look out for / consider when building a Film Editor reel?

I feel like the basic principle of showing your ability is to show you can tell a concise, tight story in a scene. So can a reel be longer if I'm having to show said abilities with several scene examples? How do I determine my limits? As always, thanks again for the valuable input everyone.

Bryan McClurg
Editor, Writer, Director


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Brendan MaghranRe: Building a Film Editor's Reel
by on Jan 28, 2013 at 6:56:16 am

It really depends what market you're trying to appeal to. Short films and Features requires a showreel much different than say, music videos or commercials. Since I lean towards scripted, my reels are usually longer, often a whole short or full scenes. But commercial or music video I would go with more rhythmic, stylistic cutting.


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Scott SheriffRe: Building a Film Editor's Reel
by on Jan 28, 2013 at 8:30:56 am

Reels for editors are over-rated. Editing is a process, but the reel only shows the end result.
For example, they don't tell me how you are at problem solving, how you are with clients, how well you take direction and instruction. These are all important things since most editing isn't a free form, do as you please type of thing. Your reel also doesn't tell me how well you budget your time, how organized you are, or even how good you are at choosing the good take.
And there are a lot of fakes out there. And the reels that aren't fake, either tend to look like every other reel, or they look more like a product demo for a line of plugins or a camera demo.
That said, the odds of me watching the whole thing decreases logarithmically with every minute it goes over 7.
I'm much more likely to invest that reel watching time in calling your references and clients, and throw you on the system and do a bit of auditioning. I'll know more about your editing skills by doing that, than I'll learn from watching your reel.
As far as content, it isn't so much about what you put in your reel, as what you leave out.
That's one school of thought. There are others.

Scott Sheriff
SST Digital Media
Multi-Camera Director, VFX and Post Production

The Affordable Camera Dolly is your just right solution!


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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Andrew KimeryRe: Building a Film Editor's Reel
by on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:27:27 pm

Scott,

Doesn't what you just said apply to every reel (and resume for that matter)? It's step one in the weeding out process of hiring someone. If 100 people apply for a job I doubt you are going to interview them all, 'audition' them all, and call all of their references.


Bryan,
If you have enough material you should make separate reels (like Brendan suggested). Commercials and trailers on one reel, unscripted/documentary on another, scripted on yet another, etc.,. For your reels stay away from just a montage of all your work. I see this all the time and don't understand why editors do it because it doesn't display any skill other than editing a montage. Probably the only time you could get away with that is if you cut easily recognizable movies/TV shows but if you are doing that you probably don't need a reel to get work. ;)


-Andrew




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Scott SheriffRe: Building a Film Editor's Reel
by on Jan 29, 2013 at 2:09:16 am

[Andrew Kimery] "
Doesn't what you just said apply to every reel (and resume for that matter)?"


Some more than others. And as far as resume's and CV's, some of it applies there as well, but they are a lot less nebulous than an editing reel. And a lot easier to verify.

[Andrew Kimery] "If 100 people apply for a job I doubt you are going to interview them all, 'audition' them all, and call all of their references."

I'm also not going to look at their reels either. Unless I'm hiring a demo reel editor.
I've been in the position of having over a hundred resumes for a single job before, and it goes like this: Look at them all and break them down to the A and B stack. Most everyone that ends up in the B stack (besides those that are obviously not qualified) has typos, grammatical errors or conflicting info on their resume. That's something you can't always find out by watching a reel, unless it's promos or commercials with font. Then get the A stack down to a dozen or so, and rate them best to worst. Call the top 6 and schedule interviews, usually two per day. Often someone will punk out and not return a call or whatever leaving you with 4-5. Before the interviews do a little google work, and make a few calls. If I find something I don't like, they get the short interview, unless they really do well in person. Rare, but it happens. Now you only have to audition a few people. I would have them cut something like a promo, while I sat in acting as the producer. Easy-schmeasy, maybe work with them a half hour or so each. The fakes and flakes will fall apart under the pressure to perform. BTW, I'll take the less skilled editor, that is OK to work with over the prick with the great reel because the decent to work with person can always learn to be a better editor...
So now we have material that is guaranteed to have been edited by the prospective candidates, which will be similar to the other candidates work which makes our job much easier since we are comparing apples to apples.
Factoid:Back in the old days it was SOP to 'help' interns that we liked by gifting them with things to put on their meager reels, and even edit their reel too. Sometimes we helped others besides the interns. You can't believe anything you see on the screen.

Another thing that is bunk about editors reels is the way they are put together. Most often they are assembled over the course of time, with cherry picked material. The real world rarely operates that way. Most of us are hiring average people, not Walter Murch. It's really informative to see what people can do with average material.

The moral of this story is make sure you can perform, and that your resume is at least typo free.

Scott Sheriff
SST Digital Media
Multi-Camera Director, VFX and Post Production

The Affordable Camera Dolly is your just right solution!


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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Andrew KimeryRe: Building a Film Editor's Reel
by on Jan 29, 2013 at 4:53:19 am

This goes to my point that the weeding out process starts off with something relatively superficial (be it a resume or a reel) as it's just not practical to do 'in depth' research on every applicant. Overall I think it is better to have a reel and not need one than to need a reel and not have one as there certainly are people that want a reel as part of the hiring process.


-Andrew




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Bryan McClurgRe: Building a Film Editor's Reel
by on Jan 30, 2013 at 9:23:06 pm

Thanks for all the feedback, guys! While I have a resume, I feel it never hurts to also have a reel for any position you're stepping into. And on more specific note, I will definitely look into separating my reels based on projects (scripted vs documentary, etc). Thanks again, everyone.

Bryan McClurg
Editor, Writer, Director


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