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Desperately Needing Critique of Reel!

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Jen SuranDesperately Needing Critique of Reel!
by on Jun 30, 2009 at 6:34:46 am


I'm a young editor, just starting out, and I want to focus on documentary editing. I would be sooo appreciative if you would be so kind to give me some suggestions and/or advice on my reel. They didn't teach us how to make a good reel in film school. Please see the link below.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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Stephen EilersRe: Desperately Needing Critique of Reel!
by on Jul 1, 2009 at 5:47:40 pm

I've never looked at a documentary reel before, but it worked for me. The only thing I would change is to make everything shorter... including the opening titles. I've always been told to keep a reel short. For example, let's say someone needs an editor and you submit your reel for review... the viewer may have many reels to review, so keeping yours short and to the point helps them out and may ensure they watch the whole thing. I did find myself skipping ahead now and then.

Stephen Eilers
Director - Editor - Visual Effects Artist
Please comment on my reel at

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Jen SuranRe: Desperately Needing Critique of Reel!
by on Jul 2, 2009 at 4:06:39 pm

Thank you so much for your feedback! I'm definitely going to take your advice and shorten it up a bit. I really appreciate you taking the time to watch it!

Now it's time to start looking for work.


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Anthony MarzilliRe: Desperately Needing Critique of Reel!
by on Jul 9, 2009 at 2:09:18 pm

I did a bunch of skipping around as well. Your intro graphics took about 20 seconds... you could do all those in 10 or shorter and still get the point across clearly. I did find the pieces pretty interesting which is good... but ya... cut it down to keep our attention. Make me interested in your cuts and what you do and not watch the whole movie. A goal should be around 2 minutes I think.

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Stephen SmithRe: Desperately Needing Critique of Reel!
by on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:34:30 pm

I agree, the open is way to long. I worked for a company that got a stack of over 50 reels for one position. The company I currently work for gets a reel once a month if not more. Bottom line, if each reel was 2 minutes long it would take me a long time to watch each. If it doesn't look promising in the first 20 to 30 seconds I would think that your toast in a lot of cases. Remember, I can always ask for more. Best of luck.

Stephen Smith
Lone Peak Productions

Check out the TV Show Open I did.

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2

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Lloyd ClaycombRe: Desperately Needing Critique of Reel!
by on Aug 5, 2009 at 5:38:28 pm

I would say the same as above. It was too long, especially the intro. I'd like it to just get to the point.

The music you picked flowed well I think for the shoe shot. But it was a little long also. Also, you framed all the interviews on the same right side. Might'a been nice to mix it up and not make it the exact same frame for each person. Maybe some a little closer and some a bit out too?

My 2 cents.

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William MimsRe: Desperately Needing Critique of Reel!
by on Sep 12, 2009 at 6:34:48 pm

Jen: I'm an old guy (63) who started out cutting film on a Movieola, then moved to linear editing on tape so my 'mentors' were people like Hitchcock. So when you say a "suspenseful encounter with a sluggish bridge and swiftly moving tug boat" I never guessed that was what you were suggesting. As Hitchcock said suspense is showing the 'bomb' under the table about to go off and then the person not knowing what the audience knows about the bomb. So the tug swishing across frame without any reference to it's position with the bridge does not create suspense. With a camera angle that shows the tug approaching and we see in the same frame the bridge not rising, now we have suspense. Will it come up in time? Once we see that establishing shot with the two in the same frame, now the audience understands what the danger is. And once you have this shot the rest can be closer shots of each by themselves. As the two move toward sure disaster the shots are tighter and tighter until the moment is resolved. What I am suggesting is not easy when you do not have access to P.O.V. shots from the tug or one with the bridge in the foreground and the tug approaching. So some ingenuity on your part is required, but then that's what filmmaking is all about and why we find it so rewarding and most of all- FUN! You've done a great job so you should be very pleased with your work so far.
Best of luck to you and watch the films of the forties and fifties-they can teach you a lot about the structure of telling your story.


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