Shoot for the reel??
I posted this in the "demo reel" forum but that doesn't get much traffic. Since reels are about marketing I thought I would post here also. Let me know if it should be removed.
Greetings everyone. Here's my situation. For the past 3 years I've been working a corporate job doing everything from shooting to post, some motion graphics, producing and managing live events and all points in between. I've recently gone out on my own focusing on shooting and post. I have had a steady flow of work from clients who made the leap with me but will tap out at the end of June without new clients. Problem is, while most of the stuff I've been producing is decent and pays pretty well, I don't have much that would make for good reel material. The new clients I have found me through word of mouth and haven't asked to see a reel, they've taken it on faith that I'll do a good job, which I believe I have. But again, not much in the way of reel material. I want to branch out into more quality work so here is my thinking.
Take a week to shoot the kind of stuff I want to be doing on my own, basically shooting for the reel. I know the kind of material that will showcase my talents and have a general outline of how I want things to look. Does anyone see a problem with this? Also, I'm in a small market about 5 years behind the times and would like to use some motion graphics and compositing but have recently switched to FCP after years in the PC world. I'm on a huge learning curve and as yet have only been using some tweeked out Motion templates. Most people around here won't know the difference but anyone outside of this area will. Should I include some of this stuff or wait until I have some more original material.
Any thoughts and suggestions would be most appreciated.
Higher Ground Media
[Mick Haensler] "Most people around here won't know the difference but anyone outside of this area will."
I wouldn't bet on this degree of sophistication within the client base. Certainly other editors and some producers will recognize stock effects, out of the box motion graphics, JumpBack backgrounds, and so on. But clients? That's not the sort of thing that falls within their world typically. (Your mileage may vary.)
If you aren't booked, shooting some things for your reel would be a good use of time. In my opinion, it's always good to have something on your reel that you are proud of - and something that reflects the kind of work you want to do. If you don't have a piece that does that already, don't wait for a client to bring it to you.
I agree. Let me add that you can do demo stuff that really matches your personal interests and makes you feel fulfilled. That makes the work fun, if not necessarily immediately profitable.
But to put another twist of marketing spin on it, I always suggest people in your position look at potential clients they WANT to work with, and find out what are the causes and charities they support. If you can get behind one of those efforts and do some pro-bono spec work, you have the best of both worlds. You make contacts and add to your personal network. You get a "calling card" product you can use to wangle an interview with the bosses at that company and thus at least get yourself known to them. You have something you can throw on YouTube and do some subtle self-promotion while doing good for the charity. Because it is a spec piece you have total creative freedom, work the schedule you want, and can take total credit for your brilliance. Use it as an excuse to really learn and apply some new techniques, like Motion and AfterEffects. So it has benefits out of proportion to the expenses.