What is a sizzle reel?
This isn't really a support question but I couldn't figure out where to post this and I know that people on creative cow are usually very knowledgable so would like advice from here.
I'm trying to become an editor, I have some industry experience mainly edit assisting and technical support and infrastructure in post production but an trying to become an actual editor for hire. I'm going to study at a screen academy and in light of my industry experience they say they would likely accept me but they want a showreel. At least showreel is what it said on the website, but when I spoke to the actual admissions guy who is personally helping me to get in he said '5 minute sizzle reel' I thought nothing of it at the time but sitting down to edit it now I suddenly realise that for a showreel 5 minutes is a very long time. As reference, I've been watching the editor's reels of editors I've met whilst working and also the showreel of the company I work for and none of them ever reach 5 minutes.
When I search google for sizzle reels the first thing I see is a 5 minute long trailer for the movie 'taken', it's basically the whole film condensed to 5 minutes which means actual dialogue and entire sections of the movie. The editors' showreels I've been watching rarely if ever work that way, they're usually about 2-3 minutes or less with a track in the background and never any dialogue. I started cutting this way for mine, but if they want 5 minutes of that it's going to be tough and I would wager pretty boring to watch. Am I going about this the wrong way? Should I be treating it more like the taken sizzle reel where it's larger extracts showing actual sequences from different work rather than just grabs put to music? I could call the guy again and ask but I'm a bit embarrassed that I don't know what he means and I'm worried I will appear incompetent and discourage him from accepting me in to the course.
I really hope someone can help soon.
A sizzle reel is just a newer different way of saying demo reel. When we are pitching new shows to broadcasters we create a 2 to 3 minute sizzle reel, a few years ago we would have called it a demo reel or a pitch video.
From an employers perspective, we never judge an editor by their sizzle reels, they're usually a reflection on the choice of music and the quality of the video of the video you've had a chance to work with. We always judge people's editing talent by looking at full shows or segments that editors have cut.
Keep your reel short, and try and get the opportunity to edit some longer form projects.
As John says above, and in addition, the term "sizzle reel" is inspired by the old adage, "don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle."
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[james cee] "What is a sizzle reel?"
When you're deep sea fishing and get a strike, and you have your drag set way to low.
[james cee] "m trying to become an editor, I have some industry experience mainly edit assisting and technical support and infrastructure in post production but an trying to become an actual editor for hire. I'm going to study at a screen academy and in light of my industry experience they say they would likely accept me but they want a showreel. At least showreel is what it said on the website, but when I spoke to the actual admissions guy who is personally helping me to get in he said '5 minute sizzle reel' I thought nothing of it at the time but sitting down to edit it now I suddenly realise that for a showreel 5 minutes is a very long time. As reference, I've been watching the editor's reels of editors I've met whilst working and also the showreel of the company I work for and none of them ever reach 5 minute"
IMO, I think you're over-thinking this. I'm sure they would like to have your money. The elitism of implying you need a killer reel to "get in" is probably marketing BS to make it seem like it's worth the money.
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair
Where were you on 6/21?
So would you suggest to having a showreel showing segments of short films etc with the dialogue/sounds/ music etc from each segment playing as opposed to having one music track which isn't anything to do with any of the clips and lasts the whole reel?
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I guess the general consensus I've taken from the average answer is that a sizzle reel is just a demo reel with a different name and that also I needn't worry so much about it. I'm still concerned however about the form it ought to take. As I said most of the reel's I've seen including many on this site, have been 2 minutes maybe 3 at a pinch and set to a single track and only occasionally, if ever, taking any lengthy chronological sequences from their source material or dipping in to their dialogue. I've seen some that do, but most don't. But at 5 minutes, do I basically have to take the uncommon approach of mixing dialogue, scenes and potentially more than one track? Or should I try to reach 5 minutes using the no dialogue, single track format and just hope I can do well enough to avoid a viewer getting fatigued by it?
I can see one comment implies that using only a single track and not mixing several is self-evidently a bad idea because it would be like forcing imagery to music that is unrelated and while I can see the logic behind this statement, it seems to be the industry standard to do exactly that and I also thought that was part of the demonstration of skill as an editor that a showreel provides. How adept he/she is at making the imagery work even though it's all from disparate sources in a single tight unified package.
I know no one can tell me exactly how to do my reel, but basically, I'm a newbie, with only a handful of projects to my name, and all of them are advertising based; so short, and mostly without dialogue to begin with. I think I edit well and if accepted, this course could build my reel in to something much more attractive, hopefully, by the end I'd have greater chance to become an actual editor if I can combine the contacts I got working, plus the reel and the skills I pick up from the course. But this admissions process is making me nervous and I'm trying to get a picture of how seasoned editors would approach the same challenge given the same conditions as I have.
I've NEVER hired anyone based on their "sizzle reel"!
At a certain level of accomplishment in this business, we assume that you can "edit". After that,
who gets the job depends more on other skills like: communication, conversation, collaboration, common sense, creativity etc. These traits are not easily conveyed via a sizzle reel. They can only be discerned through face to face meetings.
So, my advice to you is have a good "sizzle reel", but spend your time, effort and resources interacting with
potential employers on a personal level. It's that one to one connection that will get you hired.
2 to 3 minutes is fine. It can be images from different projects cut to music, it can be short punchy snippets with original sync; as long as it's yours, demonstrates that you've worked on a variety of projects and doesn't bore the viewer. Like the song says - anything goes.
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf
This was done by a colleague of mine in Vancouver who has been editing drama for many years. When the Stargate franchise ended, he had to put together a demo for the first time in many years.
And in doing so, he managed to poke fun at the whole demo reel thing.
Demo reels for editors are very different than demo reels for shooters. Shooter demos can follow all the old tropes with fast-cutting montages and music beds full of screaming guitar solos, because all you're trying to show is how creatively they compose and expose a shot, how well they can follow action and move the camera, how they can stay in critical focus, so the more of those shots you can show, and the more variety, the better. They rarely add up to any kind of *story*, however.
An editor's demo should show how well they compose a STORY. This could be a demo of how they put an action sequence together, or how they trim up a long scene and retain the essence. But I feel montages of pretty camerawork for their own sake are a waste of time for an editor's demo, unless the montage is telling a specific story, if it is about one or two characters from a larger work undergoing changes thru time, for example.
Editing demos should IMO also take an effort to point out ancillary work the editor does or can do, like if he's also got skills in colorization or rotoscoping or compositing, and also in audio sweetening, some very rapid before/afters or split-screens can effectively communicate this in a short time frame.
My interpretation of "sizzle reel" is a demo made for a specific ***promotional*** use, not as a general exhibition of your overall skills. You call it a demo reel when you're showing how you can cut. You call it a sizzle reel when you've cut together footage from a work in progress or development, in order to generate excitement and support to fund the project to completion. You show sizzle reels to people that may fund a production. You show demo reels to people hiring you to do their post work. That's my own interpretation of the distinction. One is personal marketing, the other is marketing a project.