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How does my demo reel look?

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ryan elder
How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:39:06 am

Here is my latest one. I was told not to mix genres was too much, so I chose my thriller looking genre projects. Let me know how it looks. Thanks!







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Stephen Smith
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 23, 2018 at 3:00:07 pm

I'm confused. What is this a demo reel for? Acting, directing, editing, camera work?

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 23, 2018 at 9:59:53 pm

Sorry, for not specifying. Directing


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Stephen Smith
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 23, 2018 at 10:15:27 pm

I think you should really spell out that it is a directing reel or put it in the title of YouTube link. To me, a director is who brings everything together and works with the actors. Because of that, I feel the montage pacing you have doesn't show off your skills. I would prefer to see a couple to a few scenes that really show off your work. No fancy editing just the scene uncut the way it was finalized and then move onto a different movie and show an amazing scene from that film. Montage Reels are for camera operators and motion graphics people.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 24, 2018 at 12:08:40 am

Okay thanks, I think when I watched other demo reels to get examples, I probably watched videographers reels then rather than directors reels.

Do you think I should show whole scenes play out, acting wise then, in their entirety? Cause I was told a demo reel should be no more than a minute, when looking it up, which doesn't really give a lot of time to let scenes play out. Unless maybe it should be longer?


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Stephen Smith
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 24, 2018 at 3:43:12 pm

I would show enough of a scene that I can get a sense of the emotion and energy the scene provides. Then move on. Most people show too much in a reel, remember your goal is to peak someone's interest and get them to ask to see more. As for the length of a reel, I agree, under a minute. That being said I think a directors reel is different. Show the least amount you can to get the message across and keep in mind people such as myself will bail from a real in about 10 seconds if I don't feel it holds up.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 24, 2018 at 9:47:45 pm

Yep for sure, thanks. When it comes to the footage you just saw in that real, should I just let it each one play out longer without intercutting back and forth, or should I show more dialogue driven scenes in a reel?


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 24, 2018 at 9:49:04 pm

But then again you said no montaging. Do you think I should just let each of those scenes play out, or should I choose different scenes, since you said those ones don't seem to show off my skill?


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Stephen Smith
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 25, 2018 at 3:33:20 pm

The director works with the actors and tries to get the best performance out of them. For some reason, a lot of people think the director composes shot and does camera stuff which some do but that is the DPs job. The director focuses on actors performance and the overall mode of the film. I think you need to show a scene with great dialogue, I feel that is lacking in your reel. What is the best scene you have directed? Put that in. Show us enough of the scene so we get it and then move on to the next scene.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 25, 2018 at 9:52:28 pm

Okay thanks. And yes, I had other cinematographers do the actual shooting in those shorts. So yes, I can show some acting more so then.


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 25, 2018 at 9:53:51 pm

The scene I directed with the best acting was actually a rape scene though, but do you think it would look bad if I put that in? Acting wise though, I would say it's probably my best work.


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Stephen Smith
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Oct 25, 2018 at 10:13:34 pm

Depends on what your ultimate goal is. I build my reels based on what I think the target audience wants to see and what will get me the job.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Kevin Camin
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 2:58:52 am

My advise would be to team up with some stellar cinematographers and actors while developing your directing abilities, in order to fill up the reel. I think whatever project or projects are in the reel were a ton of work and labors of love, and I respect that. But from a commercial stand point, I feel this won't really get you far. The video clips don't really have a polished look to them and the acting isn't great. I went through film school and this feels like a midway point film student's reel. I would take some acting classes, even though you are not an actor to understand the process. Also the role of the director is not to do everything but delegate and collaborate. So teaming up with people who are professionals or work at that level for every department is a must. Good luck!

Best regards,

Kevin Camin


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 6:23:28 am

Okay thanks. U've taken some acting classes and I feel that helped. As for getting really good actors though, where do you find them without spending a huge amount of money if possible?


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 6:25:01 am

As for a polished look, where would I find a really good DP without ditching out a lot of money just for a reel, if possible?


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Kevin Camin
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 5:07:03 pm

Hi Ryan,

For finding a DP:
If you're in the States, you could try to find a filmmaker's Meetup group in your area or a Facebook group. A major city you live in or by probably has a film and TV board where you can attend events and network with people. I think for you, you'd want to try and find people who are up and coming like you. Maybe first ACs who work professionally and want to be a DP someday, and are willing to hone their skills with you. But anything is possible and I'd just ask around. What you will need are some solid concepts to shoot that are visually interesting. Team up with a script writer if needed to concept and create ideas. There's a one-minute film festival in San Francisco in May I think. You might want to do things like that. It gives you a deadline and give you and your assembled team something to rally around. It's obviously easier to get collaborators for free when the piece is one minute or five minutes vs. twenty. Craigslist is also a great place to advertise for crew in your area.

For trained actors, you can get them easier than you think. Budding, non-union actors in general are hungry for work and wanting to build their own reels. Just put a call out on Craigslist, Facebook groups, local film and TV board classifieds, etc. If this is going to be super low budget, I don't know if I'd hold physical auditions but you could do them over Skype or something.

Best regards,

Kevin Camin


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 5:50:26 pm

Okay thanks. As far as solid concepts go, I have some feature film scripts from writers that I think will be attention grabbers, but no good short films for a while. I think the problem is, with a short film, after you introduce the concept, you have to end it so soon, since most viewers want a short film to be only 10 minutes. So I was thinking I might take one of the feature scripts and just go straight into that and direct that, cause I think that a feature length script with a good concept will attract a lot better talent, then just any other dime a dozen short film script.

I live in Canada, and got my actors and crew from filmmaking groups, but I need to find better talent of course...


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Kevin Camin
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 9:35:17 pm

Something to perhaps consider is doing shorter videos. It's 20x cheaper and quicker to do a 5 minute short. Committing yourself to a feature length film is a huge undertaking and something a lot of people start and never finish because of expense or dozen other unseeable factors. I'm a firm believer in two thing. 1. If you cannot make a compelling 5 min short, you can't make a compelling 2 hour feature--you're dead in the water and making something no one is going to want to sit through (minus you and the actors). 2. It's better to make an amazing, high-end, highly polished 5 min or 2 min piece than a mediocre, budget stretched thin longer piece. The more smaller projects you can complete I feel will get you better, faster. I would save your features for when you mature as a filmmaker a little more and can really bring the big guns to the table.

Right now I'm working on a heavy VFX shot that is about 7 sec long and I've been working the past month on it. This isn't my money but if everything was billed, this shot is going to be at least a $40K shot. This seven seconds is going to do more for me reel (showing my capability to direct, and execute complex visual effects) than if I were to do a 20 min piece where I spend the past month on the twenty minutes. Hope that makes sense. Just my 2 cents--follow your heart. Good luck!

Best regards,

Kevin Camin


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 10:07:38 pm

Okay thanks. As far as making 5 minute short film though, is the problem my directing skills, or is the lack of acting talent and cinematography talent? I was told I need better actors and cinematography, in order to do better. But am I doing anything wrong as director? Or am I doing good at making the movie and telling the story, and I just need better actors and a better DP, etc?


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 18, 2019 at 10:11:01 pm

Plus how do you get top A list talent in acting and cinematography do to a five minute short, since they seem to want to do bigger projects more?


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Kevin Camin
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 19, 2019 at 8:57:14 pm

If you really want to shoot a feature go for it. I don't know your body of work, but from your reel, like I mentioned before, it is my opinion that it looks like a mid-level film students work. You're still learning, I'm still learning, everyone is still learning. As a metaphor, why write a novel when you're still learning the language? Can you make a one to five minute short, with a beginning, middle and end that is engaging and emotional--that is gorgeous to look at and the sound design is envelops you into the world? If you can, then go for it. This is just my two cents.

Check this out.


This is 10 years old and the camera it was shot on was a Canon 7D. I believe the first DSLR camera that let you shoot video. I think the body cost around $1000. He's a highly experienced DP and he had a crew working with him obviously. It was professionally color graded and has amazing sound design. The lighting is beautiful. The acting is great. Every little detail has been thought out. Each shot is like a word in a sentence that build to create clear and eloquent paragraphs.

Good luck! I'd personally do the San Francisco one minute film challenge. It's free to enter. If you don't come in the top 20, I'd put your feature on hold until you gain more experience.

Best regards,

Kevin Camin


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 20, 2019 at 1:02:38 am

Okay thanks. It's just with the feature I have a lot more money to spend compared to shorts, so I will spend more money on more talented actors and a more talented DP. So wouldn't that make it better cinematography and acting wise, if I spend the money to get the better talent?


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Kevin Camin
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 20, 2019 at 1:42:43 am

Just curious...what is your projected budget for the feature?

Best regards,

Kevin Camin


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ryan elder
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 20, 2019 at 1:55:00 am

Oh okay thanks. There was one more short film at least that I was going to shoot before the feature so I could try to get better actors and a DP for that. You say to use up and coming people, but I feel that that may be the reason why I am not getting the best talent, cause they are up and coming, instead of experienced veterans. Could that be the case, and I should go for experienced veterans maybe?

As for getting actors and a DP, the places I looked before were craigslist and facebook, but since I am told the acting is bad, are those still the best places then?


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Kevin Camin
Re: How does my demo reel look?
on Mar 20, 2019 at 2:09:34 am

If you have the money go for it. I haven't hired crew in a while but I imagine an experienced DP is going to easily charge over 1K a day and then you need to either rent a camera package from them or rent one from a rental house. They work with different sized crews based on the needs of the project and they obviously need to get paid too.

I would hold auditions and send them something from the script you want them to perform. Besides Craigslist I would reach out to Facebook actors' groups and contact your local film and TV board.

Best regards,

Kevin Camin


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