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Topic: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

  1. #1

    OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    Okay, so after listening to Mathis showreel (\"Great music Mathis!\" is my only comment), I now have some questions about showreels:

    What is the general makeup of a good showreel (so far, it seems that an impressive beginning is a neccessity - so what else)?

    Do I need to have multiple showreels ready to go? Say a separate reel for game audio, romantic comedies, action adventures, drama, etc.?

    How often do you update your showreel(s)?

  2. #2

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    I may be alone in this thinking, but I think the idea of a \'general\' demo reel is sort of a waste of time. I think it may have been more practical before CD\'s and digital recording/editing were so easy, when making one reel was enough of a project. I kind of think that you need to tailor a demo specifically to whatever you\'re sending it on. If it\'s a comedy, then I\'d make sure your first few cues are exactly in the style they\'re looking for. Maybe a general demo is good if you\'re sending to an agent or for a staff composer type position, but if it\'s for a specific film or tv show or game, I think you should put your best foot forward and hit them with a few tracks that are exactly in the style that they need (maybe put a few unrelated but great cues at the end of the demo). It makes it easier for them to to see that you can give them exactly what they want - which is probably not a bad thing for a potential hire.

    Or else I\'m totally wrong and there are people out there just listening to general demos looking to hire people, I just haven\'t found that to be the case.....

    Good luck - Jeff

  3. #3

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    To me a good showreel should have the following:

    Showcase quality

    Showcase diversity

    Showcase experience

    Keep things short and simple

    Have clear information on how to contact the composer

    Anything else is truly a crap shoot! There is no way to predict what a certain client wants to see unless they are very specific in their request for a demo (ie. need something that sounds like Gladiator/Whale Riderish) but those requests are rare. The best thing IMHO is to keep the above points in mind. I consistently see other people\'s reels which tend to lack some or all of the above.

  4. #4

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Have clear information on how to contact the composer

    [/ QUOTE ]

    How to do that? With a speech at the end?

  5. #5

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    I thought he ment contact information as part of the audio.... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] I was already practicing in front of the mirror for my speech...

  6. #6

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    Hello. To whom it may concern... If you are listening to this, it means that you have reached track 7...


  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    The makeup of a good showreel is shows you have successfully done, for people that your prospective client knows.

    First Verse:

    Keep it SHORT. Do not put anything remotely mediocre on it. Start with a bang, end with a bang. Include a client list, and complete contact info.

    Things nobody cares about:

    What samples you use
    What plugins you use
    What sequencer you use
    How you did what you did
    Why your work would have been better if you\'d spent more time on it...

    What clients care profoundly about:

    Your proven experience
    Your ability to collaborate
    Your ability to handle changes


    Repeat after me: Talent is a given. Talent is a given. Talent is a given.


    Second verse:

    A reel is only useful for getting gigs from people who have never heard of you. I just reviewed 12 reels of composers who wanted to replace me on a gig (which I can no longer afford to do). We rejected all of them. No one demonstrated decent experience, and the work was only mediocre to good. Some were actually painful to get through. Some, we turned off on the first tune. Remember our mantra--talent is a given. Whatever you do, do not put anything on the reel which would prove you have no talent. You\'re better off with nothing than that. In this case, we went on a recommendation from a fellow producer instead, and got the leader of a local band, a great songwriter who has self-produced for years, to do the show. And he\'s doing great. Better than the \"composer hopefuls\" would ever have done, I\'m pretty sure.


    As that applies to a reel, second verse--just like the first. The best reel you can present is one which contains successful jobs that you did, with a producer\'s name on them that your prospective client can call. The best thing a reel does for you is prove that you can crank work and have cranked work for enough people to make you a safe bet.

    Beyond that, a reel becomes synonymous with sending your band\'s demo tape to a record label. If you compose like Christina Aguilara sings, you might get a shot. So, in that case (where you\'re actually building the reel to prospect for your first/earliest jobs), again, keep it super short, put only your very, very best work on it, put real jobs on it first and foremost, and if you\'ve never had a real job, be prepared to prove that you are a person who has what it takes in every way to pull off the gig. That means, to me, slanting the presentation in a way that promotes you as someone to be trusted, someone who can crank it out, and someone who has a track record--doing something, anything, that involves starting from nothing and cranking out product. In our band-guy situation above, what got him the job was the fact that we knew he had written and self-produced five albums in as many years. So, that turned out to be a more valid \"composer credit\" than the other demos which were more about \"here\'s some music I wrote to convince you to give me a chance--hire me.\"

    That\'s my patina-glazed two cents.


    For what it is worth, I have never gotten a job from a reel, at least that I can remember. I have not sent out a reel or a demo since 1997, and that was an audition for an arena tour, not a composing gig. In that case, even, I followed my own rules--I sent them video of me performing with Sara Hickman on Austin City Limits. I had stuff that was more impressive playing, but what these people wanted to see was that I could perform in a concert setting--which is a lot different skillset than club playing.

    I probably still have a showreel somewhere, but I no longer have any idea what might be on it. I\'m sure it\'s horrible. Yet I work steadily, as I have for the past twenty some-odd years. I have not asked for a job in as long as I can remember.

    I\'ll tell you how I did that, because I happen to think it\'s the best way to build a pleasant career. Relationships. They are everything.

    I started in college. I got to know the movers and shakers in the theatre, art, filmmaking, and radio/TV departments, and offered to compose and produce music for anything they had. I got a job in the Music Department\'s recording studio, so I\'d have access to gear and late-night studio time, and I knocked out as much work as I could handle. I had my work in theatre shows, art installations, radio-bumpers, on the speaker at University football games. I arranged shows for the marching band. I arranged music for a top-twelve DCI Drum and Bugle corps. All before I hit my mid-twenties.

    With exceptions I can count on literally one hand, every job I have ever done has come from the relationships I built there. And conversely, every time I have needed talent or collaborators, they have come from the relationships started there.

    This is a relationship business.

    By all means, build reels if you\'re in the stage of the game where you need to build relationships. But know that your reel is purposed for that--and not for selling you. It will not ever sell you. It might start a relationship that will get you a job, but just know that concentrating on the relationship, rather than \"proving your versatility\" is the goal you\'re seeking. A relationship will allow you to grow, forgive you while you learn, and most important, link you up with an exponentially wider net of new relationships.

    Trust me--the jobs you want are the jobs that want you. You do not want to find yourself in a position of \"proving\" you\'re the person for the job, because you spend 100% of the time on those jobs proving you were the right person. You do not want to do very many of those jobs...only the number you must do to build your \"work circle.\"


    Hope that helps with the reel question--and with some of the dynamics. Best advice I can give...again, keep it short (leave them wanting more), keep it real (real jobs you did successfully that came out great), and always promote yourself with an eye towards no longer needing to promote yourself--by building lasting artistic relationships that are self-sustaining.

  8. #8

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    [ QUOTE ]

    Do I need to have multiple showreels ready to go? Say a separate reel for game audio, romantic comedies, action adventures, drama, etc.?

    [/ QUOTE ]


    What Ive been told is to only include stuff you are most proud of dont include stuff it just for the sake of it or just to fill out the cd - you dont want to appologise for your work.

    I think its essential to tailor showreels to different jobs. Look at it this way; if you want to score some tv procuders new sci-fi horror series why would you include light hearted cartoon type stuff ? And it goes both ways, if you are applying for a new cartoon kids show why would you include on the demo heavy action music?

    I suppose you could do it like this:
    Track 1 - Montage (tailored to clients needs)
    Track 2 - A full length piece (as above)
    Track 3 - A full length piece (as above)
    Track 4 - A full length piece (as above)
    Track 5 - General Montage (to show diversity)

    You also shouldnt include every good thing youve ever done, only a few, becuase if they do like your work what will you have left to show them?


  9. #9

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    Bruce (and others) writes with wisdom about this. Heed. All I would add is that an agent can be useful... if you can get one. Not easy these days because sampling software and the like has exposed a huge reservoir of real talent. There\'s a glut.

    An agent can help, although it\'s mostly as Bruce says: personal contacts and relationships. Agents actually expect you to have these anyway. In fact all agents do, mostly, is handle \"the deal\" - the money. That\'s vital because you don\'t want to ruin your professional relationships over money wrangling.

    So, send a good, diverse showreel to an agent. You can afford to be varied with them because that\'s what they\'re looking for.

    And don\'t be afraid to show passion. Passion can equal self-confidence and that\'s a trait which employers love to buy into even above talent! If you\'ve got it, show it. But be professional too - ie. cool and calm = reliable.

    How do you know if the work on your showreel is good or bad? Well, nobody ever put stuff out which they knew was crap, so just trust your own judgement and do your best. After all, that\'s as good as its ever going to get. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    Luck to you

    P.S. Be prepared to be turned down on a regular basis. 90% of showbiz is about rejection, and everybody but EVERYBODY gets turned down at some point. Anyone who can\'t handle that had best find another line of work... for the sake of their sanity if nothing else. Otherwise, stick with it and keep the faith.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: What is the makeup of a good showreel?

    Thanks, especially Bruce, for these detailed insights. I was a sound editor and sound designer the last five years and experienced the exact same, with a slight deviation. I made showreels from time to time when I was low with jobs and the funny thing was, that I indeed got jobs afterwards. But not as a direct effect of a showreel presentation, just by doing it... As if this process itself setted me in a special condition which made me open, communicative, willing or whatever.

    However I thought that in film music business people are more relying to reels themselves, aha, it seems not.
    My lesson of these great recent threads is that I won´t go for the collaged showreel. I will give interested people my CD, which is a real album of 45min of very diverse music which however works as a whole thing. This shows that I go for context, overall continuity and large scale form. And of course the willingness to finish this large scale work in a relativly short amount of time.

    - Mathis

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