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Student building reel for internship applications

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David SikesStudent building reel for internship applications
by on Oct 27, 2010 at 1:58:02 pm

Hello! I've posted before on this forum for advice and ideas, and I've always been very grateful for the responses I get.

I'm a student at the University of Alabama in media production, and internship time is quickly coming my way. I'm working on a reel right now to be able show with my resume.

I have material for DP/videography, motion graphics and color grading - about 4-5 minutes worth of material.

For those of you who see student reels and hire students as interns, what do you like to see as a reel: Should I break these into separate short reels, or make one longer reel (around 4 minutes)?

Thank you for your help and advice!

- David Sikes

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Mark SuszkoRe: Student building reel for internship applications
by on Oct 27, 2010 at 2:11:17 pm

Frankly, my feeling is that an intern shouldn't be judged too highly on their reel. The point of an internship after all is to get better, so a reel that is *too* good out of the box may make the applicant look over-qualified.

I would keep it short and simple, show only your very best in a single reel. Multiple reels with targeted collections are for established guys pitching to specific jobs. Do not take credit for anything not yours, and throw in a small lower-third disclaimer on footage that might be misinterpreted as yours. Don't show me templated material someone else made that you just dropped a clip onto. These are the same sins as copy-pasting a wikipedia entry word for word and submitting it as your own term paper. Also put the reel up on youtube and/or vimeo, and have a card or something to hand out with the links.

I would be looking primarily at how you compose shots, how you light, is your audio quality good, and can you cut a decent short sequence that works with or without the sound turned up. Bonus if all your levels are consistent and in spec. Bonus if you can show some compositing or Cg design chops, but again, I would not expect an intern to be a master of any of these yet, by definition. Looking for aptitude and potential, not perfection.

The level of competence I want to see just needs to meet a minimum standard that shows you really "get" this, are actively pursuing the craft, and that I don't have to teach you *everything* from scratch; rather, that you've got some basic fundamentals already, and just need further development and experience on more challenging work.

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Mike CohenRe: Student building reel for internship applications
by on Oct 28, 2010 at 7:05:26 pm

An intern is expected to learn, to demonstrate professional behavior, the ability to work as part of a team as well as independently and to have some aptitude for the business.

An intern is not expected to be a superstar in any area of the business - this is the purpose of an internship, to teach you about a particular business and skill set. If you have some skills and talent, this shows an employer that you can learn things and maybe even help out with projects. But as Mark has suggested, you are not applying for a career position - you are being humble and asking for an opportunity to learn in a professional environment.

When I applied for my interships, I brought my reel of student work, and was generally made fun of for presenting student work on my reel.

What my supervisor was impressed by was the fact that I knew how to use a waveform and vectorscope, how to backfocus a camera and that I knew about white balance.

What I learned on this particular internship directly related to the actual job I got a few months later.

Be honest about what skills you have, but don't be too sure of yourself. Nobody likes a know-it-all or a showoff. You may have some awesome video work, but an internship is for learning and admitting that you don't know everything. And even if you know all the technical skills you think you need, you can always learn about how a real business operates.

Good luck.

Mike Cohen

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Mike CohenRe: Student building reel for internship applications
by on Oct 28, 2010 at 7:07:39 pm

Oddly, but maybe not so odd given our economy, one of my former internship supervisors recently called me up looking for work.

You never know where the roads in life may lead.

Mike Cohen

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David SikesRe: Student building reel for internship applications
by on Oct 29, 2010 at 3:58:04 am

Great! Thank you both for that feedback. It's encouraging to know what y'all are looking for in an intern - that it is understood that I am a student, seeking an opportunity to learn and grow.

I greatly appreciate your help with this! Any advice on how to seek out internships on a national level?

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