I’d like to analyse what I consider to be a failure of a showreel. Dale McLean, who fancies himself as a jack-of-all-trades technician of the craft, presents a showreel which fails to capitalize on any of his supposed strengths. The first flaw is it takes you two minutes and three seconds before you learn which discipline he is advertising. He presents a very eye-catching opening logo but one which fails to state his name or occupation and is cut far too quickly into the following shot before the viewer has a chance to even fully read it.
It is only at the tail end of its length that Dale declares this a Cinematographer’s reel. I fail to see how it earns this status. The majority of it displays none of the typical set ups a cinematographer is involved in, but rather showcases public events and live interviews, set ups with minimal involvement from someone of this craft. Even the ‘music video’ category of his reel showcases one video which extremely bland natural lighting and another which, like the content before it, takes place on-location which would have been most likely handled by on-site staff.
I would have considered this more appropriate as a camera op’s showreel more than anything else, but I believe it is just important to analyse showreels of low quality to learn as a fellow creative.
Now, this is the most professional showreel of my selection. Jensen Noen is a Los Angelous-based director of commercials, music videos and short films.
His extensive range of work is up on the screen. The very first shot of his real is a monumental shot of rolling green hills, then transitioning to a tracking shot of two billowing figures on horseback. Clearly directed by a man with ambition and resources.
The reel is then interestingly intercut between many typical camera set-ups and shot types. Close ups, mid shots, extreme wide shots just as he opened with, all with a theatrical and dramatic flaire to each shot, bringing across his technique on music videos. The music is very low key, sombre, not too distracting but not unnoticeable either.
Then the video takes an interesting direction. The music changes its tune and the editing and scenes showcased become frantic and almost action-like. The momentum continues to build through shot after shot, eachy more fantastical than the rest, until the sight of a literal angel ends his reel, with a single credit card at the end showcasing his website.
Overall, a highly eye catching and professional showreel, one which should be inspirational to any artist starting out in this field.
David Firth, an independent writer, animator and filmmaker produced one my favourite showreel pieces. He makes full use of the visual and auditory spectrum in this extremely unique showcase of his work, which doubles as a trailer for his YouTube channel.
In it, Firth actually speaks directly to the viewer, through uniquely directed sequences where he plants his face onto the bodies of celebrities, including Queen Elizabeth. This experimental approach matches the tone of his work, making it a perfect introduction to his world of content.
As I indicted, he makes full use of his audio, including soundbites and dialogue from his many productions edited between the montage of footage, which I maintain adds an important level to this showreel which many lack.
James Penders, a recent graduate of Glasgow Clyde College, presents an example of a directing showreel. He showcases productions he has either directed or acted as the first assistant director.
The footage shows a wide variety of setups, compositions, camera and lighting techniques, and variety of the actors present on screen. He also demonstrates many different directing situations, most notably, a lead actress performing a dance sequence, which are infamous to direct, even for professionals.
Penders expresses much of his talent through the visuals. However, I would disagree with the use of audio, or lack thereof. His showreel fails to include any dialogue or music from the productions themselves, instead relying on an upbeat ambient tune to guide the narrative along. As they say, sound makes up half of film, and I believe by not giving an indication of how he likes to direct this aspect of his work, he’s missing out on selling himself further.