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Why You Shouldn’t Make A Video Production Showreel

Showreels are the unfortunate industry standard for video production jobs, just as diamonds are for engagement rings, or man buns are for baristas.  

For a single editor’s position in Melbourne, we received over 300 applicants. With an average showreel duration of 90 seconds (at best), that is 27,000 minutes or 450 hours of footage. Reviewing all of them is the equivalent of watching James Cameron’s Avatar 166 times, an international war crime that no human should be forced to endure. 

James Cameron’s test screening techniques

Showreels are the video production industry’s greatest lie. Call it Videogate’ and alert the free press, you’ve been deceived. Showreels are not how you get work. Which used car salesman invented the idea of a showreel?

Production companies, digital agencies, job applicants; there’s an undifferentiated sea of sameness in showreels that it pumping proverbial sewage into the eyeballs of audiences. As this UK production company points out, if showreels all look the same, what’s the point?

This article will highlight why traditional video production showreels a waste of time when applying for a Melbourne video production job, and what you can do to land your first job instead. 

1. Showreels are soulless

Tom Hanks - The Green Mile
Not even Tom Hanks can rescue a bad showreel

Would you copy and paste a bio for your Tinder profile? The blossoming relationship with your potential employer is just like a Tinder romance. There’s the initial rush of excitement, the mildly inappropriate Googling to ensure there’s no outstanding warrant for their arrest, followed by the consummation of the romance with a contractual agreement to minimise counter-party risk. If your profile is generic, your employer will swipe left and you’ll never experience love in the labor market. 

Nobody is perfect. When we graduated from university, like every other graduate we thought we were killing it by featuring an edgy electronic soundscape from The Glitch Mob. Not only did the tacky soundtrack drown out anything that could have been considered a cinematic shot in our video production showreel, but it projected a genuine lack of self-awareness; we looked exactly like every other film school graduate in the market for a video production job.

Takeaway: If you can’t differentiate your showreel visually, market it (and yourself) differently. While you can’t polish a turd, with enough glitter you can make your showreel capture our attention for long enough to land an interview. 

2. Showreels all look the same

James Franco "same same"
James Franco said it best

Your showreel is a movie trailer. Based on the trailer we pick people for an interview, just as you would pick a film to see. If each trailer has the same shots, the same credit and the same soundtrack, why would you pick to see it? We’re not hiring a showreel, we’re hiring a person so please do yourself a favour and be unique.

Takeaway: Whether it’s to a corporate video production company or a digital marketing agency, If you’re going to send a showreel, make it unlike everything else your peers are making. Edit your showreel into a personal advertisement, send it via the mail on a floppy disk, pay a Nepalese Upworker to narrate over it. Please, whatever you approach you take, don’t follow the horde.

3. Most showreels are far too general

Nobody likes a General

Are you a production company or a pawnbroker? A film producer or a fluffer? With our extensive experience hiring, graduate job applicants are notorious for sending showreels with little to no clarity as to what their role was on set for a particular production. Please, your showreel isn’t Noah’s Ark – don’t cram all the random film roles you’ve had into a single showreel. The boat will sink and the only lifeline you’ll have will be from Centrelink

In the same way, when you combine shots of your university narrative and documentary films with your DSLR footage from your recent trip to Bali (#blessed), you’re sending mixed messages. We get it, you’re a graduate and may not have much experience in production. But please, don’t take this as licence to turn your showreel into a veritable smorgasbord of mixed mixed media that will only leave us with burnt retinas and salmonella poisoning.

Takeaway: Your showreel should be punchy. Brevity trumps length. Relevance conquers variety.

4. Showreels Are Time-Consuming

Back To The Future - Time
If only it were that east to turn back time Doc

Not only are video production showreels time-consuming to view for recruiters and employers, as this article points out, they’re also an enormous use of your own time. As we history taught us in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor (2001), length is not a substitute for substance. 

Takeaway: If you can’t make something unique, cut your losses and don’t make anything. Spend more time on set, develop tangible skills, build connections and put yourself in the right position to achieve your first video production job via a referral.

Conclusion

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Ultimately, video production companies hire personalities (not showreels). With cut-and-paste showreels it’s impossible to know how you think and it’s even harder for you to pitch yourself as both self-aware and invaluable. Given that showreels are the unfortunate standard of our industry, make yours stand out by following the above guidance and doing something innovative.

Enamoured Iris is a creative video production company producing online video content marketing for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Health and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is known as “The Owlery” and is based in Melbourne, Australia. Contact us to learn more.

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