Jump to content



Photo

Demo Reel - a variation on a theme


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 Jason Williams

Jason Williams

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 189 posts
  • Lancashire, UK

Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:02 PM

I've been wanting to add a demo reel on my site for quite a while now, but seemingly all the stuff I've shot has rarely come back to me - so I have very little to use.

I had an idea to make a custom demo reel - I have a friend who's a producer/director, and asked him if he'd help me with a small project - a 5 minute short (or under 5 minutes) all Steadicam - using every technique, and make it with only a music background, no talking - so you concentrate on the picture more than any dialogue.

I wasn't sure if this would be a good idea or not - so I thought I'd throw it into the mix and post it on here - would appreciate everyone's feedback and suggestions (if you think it's worth a try).

Thanks all,

Jason :)
  • 0

#2 bobgilles

bobgilles

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 134 posts

Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:25 PM

Some of my best shots go ignored on my reel because they don't have a sexy logo or star. My Claritin, Honda, Buick and Chevron spots get mentioned by clients as a reason that they hired me from a reel even though they were very simple shots, my ambitious indie stuff is ignored. Producers like to see stars and logos, sad but true (ask any agent).
  • 0

#3 Jamie Hammond

Jamie Hammond

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 91 posts
  • Bedford Uk

Posted 07 November 2005 - 02:25 PM

Hi Jason,
Chasing footage is a real pain in the ass, but persist and chase the shots as these are whats going to show your versatility. I don't just mean in your abilities but also shooting under a variety of different DP's, senarios and circumstances and with actors. I will always chase the shots I think are worthy as also it shows me how I am progressing, you may not want to put them on you showreel but hey great to able to pick holes in yourself months down the line. I dont see the problem in creating a short that covers your abilities but I personally think like Bob has just said that alot of clients are easily swayed by a famous face and not by your ability to operate the steadicam and juggle while riding a unicycle on a tight rope, sad but true. Only my two penneth.

c Ya

J
  • 0

#4 Jason Williams

Jason Williams

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 189 posts
  • Lancashire, UK

Posted 07 November 2005 - 03:53 PM

Thanks guys, some interesting points there, and this is one reason why I didn't just go straight into it and make something - what I feel might be a great idea .... may not be, I just may be misled - and I think that might be the best idea - to chase up the shots I've done, although I may not have much to show, it's production stuff.

Thanks :D

Jason
  • 0

#5 David George Ellis

David George Ellis

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 135 posts
  • Brooklyn Zoo

Posted 07 November 2005 - 04:08 PM

Jason,

If it doesn't cost you ANYTHING... Actors do it. But if you are spending money on that, then you are a Producer. I once asked this question and got the same answer. Unless you plan to do something more ambitious with the show, i.e. festivals, etc., keep working and stay on top of those who owe you footage. Let them know the importance of you getting it. It's your livelyhood, so hustle and get that 'ish. Take the money you'd spend making the short and buy DV tapes and hand them to the people you're waiting on. They'll know you're serious.

Going forward, use the "bosom approach". Inform Production that you will want a clone of your footage at the supervised transfer and you'd be willing to pay for it, if necessary. Usually, they will make one for you, free of charge, but will appreciate the gesture. I can already hear the sounds of suckling Line Producers knowing they can get the milk without having to buy the mammary.

IMO, if you don't have logos or stars in your arsenal, Producers, DPs and Directors will want to see "real" shots. What else can you do? At least it gives them an idea of what you are capable of since it was what the previous Directors and DPs asked you to do. Your Producer/Director friend should be asking you to help him. Don't worry, it'll come back someday. Remember, you are doing the favor, not the other way around. If you don't have an agent, don't worry about stars or logos. Worry about that footage and making good shots.

If you produce this short, it better be very f'ing varied. If you have the same characters floating in your reel, it will seem like the only thing you've done, or you just don't get work. I was advised of this b/c I used the master and punch-ins of the same shot, and once it was pointed out to me, I realized it looked like I was trying to get over on whoever was watching it. This was coming from two DPs I respect very highly.

B/4 I put my reel online, I was in your position for nearly a year because I was waiting for shite. And some of it was gah-bage. The stuff I did have, I plopped onto a Mini DV tape and handed it to prospective clients. I was starving, brah. DWIT (Do Whatever It Takes). Take what you got and make a two to three minute compilation. As stuff comes in, you can then edit and tweak your reel to your liking. But once you get it together, keep on top of those who still owe you. Don't slack though, cuz they will, too.

Good luck and and send us a link to it when you're done.

David

P.S. If you do decide to produce a short, put Asians in it. They're so exotic. And besides, people like to taste pistachio rather than the same old vanilla.
  • 0

#6 Jason Williams

Jason Williams

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 189 posts
  • Lancashire, UK

Posted 07 November 2005 - 04:42 PM

Thanks David, will get my emails fired off tomorrow, followed up by some phone calls a few days after if I don't get any reply.

I suppose on the flip side what I could do is suggest to my friend he make a short ... and I'll work with parts of it - then I will have material to use - if you understand what I mean.

I was also planning on making the short for something to do ... work is a little dry at the moment, and I wanna get out there, operating, every day if I could, but I just can't force myself out there, I have a few ideas in the pipeline but need to get them into reality - then hopefully I can get material shot.

I've done two fairly large productions .... one Digi Beta and one 16mm, fairly decent stuff shot there, just haven't heard anything back from them, I did contact them, but I think I've been forgotten.

I will keep my ear to the ground with my friend and see what turns up, I'm keen to do whatever, just to carry on, so hopefully more material coming my way.

Thanks for your advice, it's all been taken in :D

Jason
  • 0

#7 Stephen Murphy

Stephen Murphy

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 261 posts
  • London

Posted 07 November 2005 - 05:04 PM

Jason,

Although i agree that nothing impresses more than famous faces i think that if you need to take your reel up a level, and if you dont have those faces at this point in your career, then producing a promo is not a bad idea.
When i first started out all the shots i had on my reel were short and quick - the DP's liked what they saw but they all wanted to see if i could handle a "longer" shot. So in my down time i put together a 4 minute short, a single steadicam shot tracking two actors uo a four story house from basement to top floor. I approached a writer/director friend to direct and got support from a local camera company who generously supplied a moviecam SL and some lights.
Although it cost me some money to produce, the resulting shot increased the standard of my reel substantially and as a direct result i got several jobs in the following months, all of which had recognisable faces, so for me it was well worth the initial investment.
As an aside, having to shoot such a complex shot (including 5 sets of stairs!!) was a fantastic experience, and one i am glad i could have on a slightly less-pressurised set. This is something that has stood me well in subsequent years, and for that experience alone the exercise was a worthwhile one.
So maybe producing a demo would be a good idea, if it is something that will genuinely be of benifit to you.
Hope this helps,
  • 0

#8 thomas-english

thomas-english

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1165 posts
  • UK

Posted 07 November 2005 - 05:23 PM

definately produce your own demo and treat your shots like really complicated practice. Make the shots super tough. Do a deal with a local performance arts school. Make the maddest stuff you can because essentially your a filmaker. Make a dancer s showreel. Chase a fire performer around a disused factory. get a load of kids and shoot their kartwheels in low mode. try and spin the whole rig so you have their heads in shot the right way up the whole time. Show off, it s show bussiness! Do it before you forget the idea. Spend some money and make some art.

Also, if you made some deals on the jobs you did because they were maybe not commercial jobs. They owe you those bits for your reel! Don t be afraid to be rude to people when demanding that footage. If they paid full rate thats a different issue, in that case you got paid to do your job and walk away with no rights to the footage. If you did them a deal because it was a student film then really they have to give you a copy pronto.
  • 0

#9 Jeff Muhlstock SOC

Jeff Muhlstock SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 240 posts
  • New Jersey, USA

Posted 07 November 2005 - 06:49 PM

Interesting topic, I have used the same demo reel for the past 10 years, it is a 10 minute shot from an Indy I shot. It runs just over 10 minutes without a cut (super 16mm). To date, I feel it is the most rewarding work I have ever done. You cant hide flaws in a long complicated shot, it really is the best way to demonstrate ones ability. I support it with a lenghty credit list, plenty of star power. It is certainly easier then cutting a compilation tape which doesnt really show your work. Credits can be seen on paper, your work and style will be noticed in a well executed shot. As always, just my opinion.

good luck,
Jeff
  • 0

#10 Jason Williams

Jason Williams

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 189 posts
  • Lancashire, UK

Posted 07 November 2005 - 07:07 PM

Thanks for the input guys, and definately some interesting thoughts coming thru, think I'll be having a lengthy chat with my friend - another idea to throw in the mix is to make a single shot short - that could make for an interesting demo reel!

Thomas; the arm is extremely sweet, much better than old arm - thanks again!

Jase :)
  • 0

#11 Charles Papert

Charles Papert

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2224 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 07 November 2005 - 07:40 PM

The sad fact is that many people who look at reels don't know how to judge the operating. Headroom and horizon are probably the two technical aspects to Steadicam that the viewer MAY be aware of (usually DP's) but beyond that, the reason that the flashy stuff (i.e. famous faces) sells is because that's an obvious indicator of someone's level of success. However, there any many great operators out in the hinterlands who rarely get the opportunity to work with well-known actors, yet they may have better chops than a pedestrian operator in LA who got the job because of their relationship with the DP.

Jeff, it's interesting to hear that your reel is a single long shot, and that it continues to work for you. I had been warned against that early on so I never considered it, although thanks to the magic of DVD I can offer the the viewer the choice of watching 3 long "one'rs" as well as the standard 7 minutes of bits 'n pieces. I think more than anything it just goes to show what has been the rumbling for years; when you have enough credits on the resume, the reel is essentially secondary or even unnecessary--there's a certain hip factor in saying "I don't have a reel". In fact, the only reason I have one now is because I got Final Cut Pro when it first came out to cut my DP reel, and it seemed logical to do a Steadicam one since I had the resources.

Jason, I would possibly suggest designing a series of shots that appear to be all from different projects (locations, actors, styles) as this will suggest that you have worked more extensively. Shouldn't be all that hard to come up with, especially if you are able to dial in some different looks in color correction, maybe shoot some letterbox and others full-frame etc.

Also remember that the hardest shots to operate may not appear that way on-screen; whatever crazy footwork or climbing over obstacles or humping a heavy camera around that makes for great tales here on the Steadicam Forum often appear business-as-usual in a reel. By the same token, simply following characters around who are trucking around a house aimlessly may not be zippy enough either. I like to offer a variety of moves, from running to extremely slow, dolly-type shots (the examples of which on my reel have received specific feedback from DP's who have hired me, so I know they were worthwhile to include); low-mode, whip pans, stairs are all good staples to include.
  • 0

#12 Jason Williams

Jason Williams

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 189 posts
  • Lancashire, UK

Posted 08 November 2005 - 03:07 AM

Jason, I would possibly suggest designing a series of shots that appear to be all from different projects (locations, actors, styles) as this will suggest that you have worked more extensively. Shouldn't be all that hard to come up with, especially if you are able to dial in some different looks in color correction, maybe shoot some letterbox and others full-frame etc.


Thanks Charles, that's something I thought about, but have initially dismissed as I thought I'd end up "cheating", but I do think it is a better idea, I can get in touch with a couple of talent schools to see if they'd find me useful ... other than that, it's trying to produce some shots that cover all the uses of the rig and my abilities.

Thanks for your input, I really appreciate everyone's help.

Best,

Jason
  • 0

#13 Charles Papert

Charles Papert

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2224 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 08 November 2005 - 04:59 PM

Not cheating at all--you are selling your Steadicam ability and that's it. If anyone asks (and why would they?) if the shots all come from different projects, you can tell them then--but really, it shouldn't make any difference.
  • 0

#14 Jason Williams

Jason Williams

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 189 posts
  • Lancashire, UK

Posted 08 November 2005 - 05:12 PM

Thanks Charles, will definately go down that route .. be a lot of fun to produce and shoot - and expand my abilities, got some shots in mind already, will post everything here when it's done :D

Jason
  • 0




Engineered Cinema Solutions

GPI Pro Systems

SkyDreams

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wireless Video Systems

BOXX

Betz Tools for Stabilizers

PLC Electronics Solutions

Teradek

Paralinx LLC

Omnishot Systems

rebotnix Technologies

PLC - Bartech

IDX

Ritter Battery

Boland Communications

Varizoom Follow Focus