How to Create A Kick-Ass Demo Reel, Which Is Actually A Portfolio Website
EditStock CEO Misha Tenenbaum sat down with editor and Fitness In Post creator Zack Arnold ACE (Editor of Burn Notice, and Empire) to discuss the modern version of a demo reel, which is a portfolio website. Listen here!
A Modern Editing "Demo Reel" Is A Portfolio Website
An employer needs to know that you can cut, and in order to do so they need to see samples of your work.
However, the way your editing work is displayed to potential employers has changed from a montage demo reel into a portfolio website. Employers want to see your best work, in digestible pieces that can be watched in isolation, beautiful displayed and easy to navigate. If done correctly a portfolio websites gives editors a big leg up over the old demo reel only submission method.
Are portfolios required for editors? Nowadays, yes. You can't wiggle out of this, especially not for your first job. It's a "show me" world out there.
Side Note: Do Assistant Editors Need Demo Reels? Nope. Assistant editors need a resume and references. We still recommend AE's have a website anyway so they can prepare for when opportunity presents itself.
The Components of a Modern Demo Reel - AKA Portfolio Website
Editors who send producers links to YouTube videos are missing out on a key component to selling themselves - that presentation matters. A portfolio website focuses your potential employer's attention on content that is only yours, which you will design in an elegant and simple way.
A good editor's portfolio website has:
- A smart domain name.
- Three to ten samples of your best work.
- Your resume as a downloadable PDF.
- Your direct contact information.
A Smart Domain Name
Wix.creativestudio.us.mishasreel.com doesn't exactly roll off the tongue when you're asked for your site address. For a few dollars a year you can own YourName.com. Many hosting companies will even offer you a domain name for free if you sign up with them. Best of all they make the setup easy.
Here is a list of places to purchase a domain name:
Three to Ten Examples Of Your Best Work
In the old days an editor would make a "montage" style demo reel, meaning a short montage showing small sections of all their best work. This is still what many people consider a demo reel.
Montages Are Good When
- They are short (3 minutes max).
- They show your best production value projects at the beginning of them.
- They do not include any poorly produced projects.
- They are edited well (we know that's subjective).
These montage's are still great to have! Ideally they should be placed along side longer segments of work. If something in your montage catches a potential employer's attention they will likely want to learn more about what they saw.
To show your content, website improve the demo method by allowing your potential employer to jump right to a project you've done that is similar to what they want to hire you to do.
Put your best content first!! Your best content is the project you are the most proud of. If there is any content that you're not sure if you should include DO NOT include it. Only put your best foot forward. Less is more.
Your Resume as a Downloadable PDF
When a friend is contacting you with a job lead they may also need to "sell you" to someone else, higher up in the project who's job it is to hire you.
Printing out your resume and sharing it around the office is often the first thing they will be asked to do. While a resume doesn't display your work the way your website does, it certainly gives a potential employer a good enough idea of what your qualifications are to decide if it's worth continuing down the path of hiring you.
We recommend you update your resume once a year.
Add your email address and phone number in a clear place. Ideally it goes in the header or footer as well so that it's on every page of your site.
Do not only use the contact form on your website's template. People often forget to connect that form to their email address! Plus, the person sending you the message isn't as sure that you got their note as they are when they email you.
Editing Full-time vs Freelance Job Application Requirements
Both full-time jobs and freelance jobs will ask you to submit a demo reel before they hire you. However, when you work freelance you will be asked for that link over and over again by your next clients. When you have a full-time job, they will see your work every day.
Full-time editors get nervous when changing jobs for two big reasons:
- They haven't updated their reel in years.
- They are worried about a lack of diverse content on their reel.
We recommend updating your portfolio website and resume once a year even if you have a full-time time job. If you're worried about getting pigeon holed because you only have one type of content on your reel, well, that's what EditStock is for :). Get cracking on a new project!
What you don't need to do with your portfolio is
- Build a blog
- SEO optimize
- Buy advertising.
Think of your portfolio website as a business card that you give to a specific person. You're not trying to market yourself to customers the same way a business needs to.
How New Editors Can Build A Portfolio?
There is an age-old problem in the film industry for up and coming editors - you need a job to build a demo reel, and a demo reel to get a job. Again, that is what EditStock is here for. Pick a few projects, edit them, get feedback from us, and go get a job. In case you're wondering yes, it's ok to use EditStock footage on your demo reel. In fact, you should.
For anyone interested, this was the demo reel I submitted to get into college.