Greetings fellow flamers!
I’m based in South-east Asia and have been doing this to close to 5 years. I’ve noticed my reel doesn’t even stand close to reels from flame artists based in UK, America or European countries. I’m not sure if it’s because of the production standard or the different kind of boards we get.
Now here’s the question: how important are our reels to the employers? I’ve been thinking of moving abroad to work to “beef up” my reel. But I’m not sure employers there will even consider me if I’m competing with people abroad.
Next to a personal referral from another Flame artist, I’d say the reel is the most critical thing to getting a job or a gig. But try not to be discouraged if you feel your reel doesn’t stack up to the highest profile work. Everyone who works on those big jobs also started with an aspirational reel at some point. (And I think most of us are never satisfied with our reels, no matter what stage in the career.)
As @GPM said above, I believe personal reference is the best. Reels are reels are reels. And maybe that’s how you get your gig and cool and yeah, obviously you want the best reel you can have. But soooo many reels I’ve seen- you have zero idea what someone actually did on it, how much was plug and play setups from some killer lead artist, how much was compositing vs finishing, so you end up with no real way to judge someone’s skill level or specialities. Though, most importantly, you’ve got no way to tell how they are to work with. I think you just keep grinding at stuff, meet more and more people, and then show up and do your thing. My reel probably looks lame as hell to people, by the way.
Edit: I also have to add, that when I first read the title of this thread, I was like “ohhh I remember @cnoellert hates the reels view. Reels debate about to come in hot, gonna grab the popcorn” LOL
For quite a long time I’ve wondered why reels are so highly prized.
Complex projects are so collaborative that a single shot in the demo reel could have 20+ artists contributing to it.
Did you rig, light, or comp it?
Or did you add the legal?
I’d value a personal reference much higher than a demo reel.
Personal referral would be really hard for an upcoming artist, especially for someone not it the west, it takes a lot of time to build up the network.
I think discreetly expressing what you did on which shot and providing a breakdown would help a lot.
And desktop reels, yes I love 'em. Here’s some .
Same here… reels didn’t really meant much to me when hiring artists. I’ve seen people get hired with extremely impressive stellar reels that ended up needing a helping hand at every corner and I’ve seen people with far less impressive reels (often from smaller countries with different/ lower budgets) who’d end up rocking the place quickly. I would ask for personal references, then ask for other interests (drawing/ photography… art related stuff) and then have a good chat about filmmaking in general. That usually gave me a much better insight than just a reel…
I would also consider that starting out in a smaller operation on lower-profile jobs can be a great asset. I’ve found that artists who start this way rather than starting in big houses on big projects, tend to have a wider command of the tools, if not as deeply specialized – since it’s necessary in small ops. Big splashy spots on reels to me are less impressive than shots of any scale that are broken down, or at least showing before & after. Personally I’d find it more valuable to see a full green-screen comp on a spot that few have seen, than to see a bunch of superbowl spots that perhaps the artist did a little roto on, etc.
I love them too, Sinan!
I’ve got your popcorn six.
Thanks guys for your insights! Really appreciate them. Happy new year all!
That’s a much better way to assess what a candidate can do versus watching a fast-cut demo reel with no context as to what they did on the comp.
And to the OP’s original question, if you know your work is solid and you can solve difficult shots on your own, stop dealing with recruiters, LinkedIn, front-desk reception, and Human Resources (HR).
Pick the facilities you want to work with, find out their CEOs or EPs (Chief Executive Officer / Executive Producer), and send a personal letter to them via FedEx with signature required.
Maybe add a page to that letter with a QR code to your reel.
Emailing HR takes minutes and the cost is zero.
Printing a targeted letter and sending it via courier is expensive but it makes an impression that cannot be equalled electronically.