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How to Create a Demo Reel

A professionally crafted demo reel can make all the difference in whether you get hired for a project, or not. Whether you’re looking for work in production or in post-production, your demo reel is often the deciding factor between whether you get your foot in the door or you are left to continue seeking employment for months to come. Learning how to create a demo reel is something that every aspiring filmmaker or crew member must accomplish. But with so many ways to accomplish the same task, and no real right or wrong, you might feel overwhelmed.

Lana McClung on set

The key to making a professional demo reel is to highlight your most qualified skills and abilities in a way that allows the viewer to recognize the value and potential that you have. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Aim for a Less is More Approach

A shorter demo reel is likely to be more attractive than something that is several minutes long. A less is more approach can help you to nail down the most important elements of your skill set and share what really matters most with the viewer. Don’t show all of your work in a demo, that’s what your portfolio is for. Instead, show only your BEST work!

2. Be Niche Specific

BBP post production editing

Sure, you might have skills in directing, and editing, and in filming, but your demo reel shouldn’t showcase all of your skills in a single reel. Instead, you want to learn how to create a demo reel that is specific to the skill set that you are focusing on or seeking a position within.

Thus, if you’re looking for a role as an editor, your demo reel should showcase your best work in post-production editing. Likewise, if you’re seeking a position as a Director, the demo reel should showcase skills relative to that field.

3. Describe Your Work

If you’re producing a demo reel that showcases projects that you have only a fraction of a role in or in situations where it could be hard for the viewer to know exactly what skill you’re showing, include a description in your reel. A few simple words over your video can help the viewer to recognize your abilities and your honesty as you describe the work that you accomplished in each clip.

4. Include Top Clients

Filming a Testimonial interview on a FS7

If you’ve done work for some impressive clients that the average viewer would recognize, include the details in your demo reel. Learning how to create a demo reel that utilizes all of your strengths and key advantages is important! Whether it’s a major corporation, or a particularly notable interest, including the name in the lower third of your reel when showcasing the project can make a big impact.

5. Show Off Your Technical Skills

Your demo reel is all about showing off your skills. You should emphasize any technical abilities that you have so that the reality of how valuable and professional your work may be can be easily seen. Consider a side-by-side, split screen that shows off your skills or incorporates other ways of sharing your technical skill set for those watching.

6. Maintain Professional Quality

editing video on computer

Finally, learning how to create a demo reel is as much about the steps you take now to ensure professional quality as it was about taking those steps in past projects. Sure, you can show off your past projects that clearly depict your professionalism and skills, but a poorly produced demo will not do justice.

Make sure that you spell check your work, that you have double checked for any technical glitches or errors, and that you’ve ensured the audio is perfect for your reel. Once you’ve fully checked the entire sequence — do it again, and again, for good measure!