InFocus Film School Blog

 

How to Make an Amazing Demo Reel

How to Make an Amazing Demo Reel

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a demo reel is worth a million. An expertly crafted demo reel can quite literally kickstart your career if your resume is less than prolific. On the flip side, all it takes is a few seconds of poorly assembled footage for a producer to make a snap judgement and move on to other applicants. So what does it take to make a demo reel that will sell your skill?

PICK A SKILL TO FEATURE

You may be a jack-of-all-trades on set, but when it comes to your demo reel you should choose only one or two skills to focus on. Consider what sort of gigs you are hoping to gain with your reel, and what kind of footage you have on hand.

InFocus Film School instructor Devan Scott’s reel. 

IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
Take some time to really think about what kind of jobs you want to apply for. If you are trying to get hired as a extreme sports cinematographer, a reel that is composed entirely of subdued dramatic scenes may not be the best choice. That said, it doesn’t hurt to show versatility, so if you want to keep your options open, put together a sample platter of the different genres that you have worked in.

CONSIDER YOUR CONTENT

If you find yourself with more ambition than useable footage, then it may be time to get out there and get working. It might seem counterproductive to ask friends if you can volunteer on their indie projects when you’re trying to get paid work, but the truth is that you need good content to populate your reel. Another option is to make your own material, specifically for the reel. Good footage is good footage, and the most important thing is that you created it yourself.

KEEP IT TIGHT

When you have enough material to start your editing process, it can be very difficult to choose exactly what you should use and what you should cut. If you find yourself with a seven minute mega-reel it may be a smart move to get someone else to edit for you. The truth is that many producers may only make it fifteen seconds into your reel before they decide to consider you for a job. With that in mind, a minute to a minute and a half is a great length for your reel.

https://vimeo.com/247242689

InFocus Film School instructor Jeremy Klassen’s reel. 

ASSEMBLE A FOCUS GROUP

Once you’ve got the initial cut of your reel together then it’s time to assemble your most honest friends and family members, and get them to give you some feedback. Ask them to specifically note which parts jumped out at them, and which they could have done without. Compare their notes, watch your reel again and re-edit. Repeat the process with some new participants, and then go tweak it a little more. Sit back at your computer and take a moment to celebrate your killer demo reel.

This process can seem a little daunting at first, but in order for you to establish yourself as a professional you have to make some pretty big strides. The film industry is extremely competitive, but if you’re willing to put in the extra effort to make your demo reel shine, then you are already on the right track to having a long and prosperous career.  

 

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Why Should Filmmakers Shoot Commercials?

Five Films That Use VFX in Super Subtle Ways

By Christopher McKittrick

 

Like nearly all film school students, you probably dream of helming a multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbuster… except at the moment you’re finding it difficult to come up with those millions to spend on your vision.

 

In the film industry (as in any industry), working your way up to the top is a time-honoured tradition. However, you can display your talent with some of the shortest narrative films there are: commercials.

 

Many successful filmmakers like David Fincher, Zack Snyder, Michael Bay, and Ridley Scott and entire animation studios like Pixar spent their earliest years making commercials, which soon led to more exposure and greater opportunities. In fact, two of the estimated 2000 commercials that Scott directed – his 1973 spot for Hovis bread and his 1984 Super Bowl spot for Apple – have been cited by many in the industry as two of the most influential television commercials in advertising history.

 

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Written by Mark Shelling

Why don’t we ever care much about the characters in disaster movies? By any estimation, they’re dealing with a conflict that has the absolute highest stakes. Because these characters aren’t always well defined, an audience won’t invest in their survival. This can cause a movie’s sense of conflict to be dead in the water. Characters must make decisions with repercussions and learn from mistakes.

Conflict is anything that will push against your hero, preventing them from getting what they want or need. Just like clearly defined characters, for a story to be successful, it needs a well-identified conflict. Something that will test your character’s limits and ultimately, teach them something at the end of the film.

Conflict can be broken down into two categories: internal and external.

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Written by Breanne Pitt

 

Anyone can make a video. The 21st century smartphone provides nearly everyone with access to high quality video cameras in their pocket. The difference between amateur and artist, however, is the successful use of perspective. Filmmaking is an art. Every shot should be captured with purpose. The real filmmakers are not people on sidewalks filming the statue across the street. The real filmmakers are the people lying on the ground, holding their camera sideways, and waiting for the light hit the statue just right. These artists understand how to capture unique perspective.  Perspective, for the purpose of this article, is capturing “viewpoints that communicate a subject to an audience in a unique way.” If you want to elevate your video skill from beginner to artist, here are suggestions on how to make a good video better with 7 simple techniques.

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How Do You Sell Your Film?

How Do You Market A Film?

How Do You Sell Your Film?

Written by Tae Haahr

Marketing is the most underrated aspect of the filmmaking process. It comes from a combination of wanting to get the film right, having a ton of things to consider and the fact that most people don’t know how to put together an impactful campaign.

But in filmmaking, marketing is a crucial component. With hundreds of thousands of films created each year—in all shapes, sizes and genres, if you want to get your film seen, marketing needs to be a priority.

So, when do you need to start thinking about marketing? The answer is simple: during the entire process. But there are five specific times that marketing needs to be in the forefront of your mind.

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How to Work as an Extra In Film

How to Work as an Extra In Film

By Julia Courtenay

 

It’s been a blockbuster year for film in Vancouver, providing a slew of opportunities for Background Performers (a.k.a Extras) to be anything from zombies, to German officers, FBI agents, bikers, baristas or nuns—and get paid!

 

Want to get in on the action? Read on to find out how to work as a Background Performer on set.

 

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3 Sci Fi Films with Perfect F/X - Monsters - InFocus Film School

3 Sci Fi Films with Perfect F/X - Monsters - InFocus Film School

1. MONSTERS (2010)

Before Gareth Edwards was behind the helm of the reboot of Godzilla (2014) and the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) he directed, wrote, shot and created the visual effects for his breakout sci-fi indie film Monsters.

With a production budget of just under $15,000 the film was shot in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Texas with a crew so small that they were all able to drive together in a seven-passenger van. After picture lock Edwards spent five months working out of his studio apartment, where he created all 250 of the visual f/x shots using Adobe software, Autodesk 3ds Max and ZBrush.

2. Primer (2004)

When the topic of low budget sci-fi indie films comes up, it’s hard not to mention the absolute powerhouse that is Primer, a movie that Shane Carruth directed, produced, wrote, scored and starred in. During its 2004 debut it won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, alongside the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation prize.

With a shooting budget of $7,000, Carruth’s film tackled the notoriously difficult topic of time travel. While this concept is absolutely within the realm of science fiction, this portrayal has been praised for being represented in a down-to-earth manner that enforces a kind of realism that is not commonly seen in this genre.

3. The One I Love (2014)

Directed by Charlie McDowell (the son of Malcolm McDowell) and produced by mumblecore giants Jay and Mark Duplass, The One That I Love is a welcome homage to the classic sci-fi television series The Twilight Zone (1959–1964), taking an ordinary couple and dropping them into a bizarre ethical quandary.

With an estimated budget of $100,000 (aided perhaps by the fact that filming took place at the home of McDowell’s parents), this film is a reminder that sci-fi isn’t necessarily synonymous with battle in space, or giant monsters. A speculative concept can stay true to it’s science fiction heritage and be an incredibly powerful tool to understand human behavior.

What is Auteur Theory in Filmmaking?

by Ryan Uytdewilligen

 

In short, an Auteur is an artist who applies a high amount of stylistic control over their craft. In the case of Auture Filmmaking, this would be the director.

 

In the history of cinema, most cinema buffs point to auteur filmmakers as a source of inspiration. Scorsese, Kubrick, Lynch, Burton, Kurosawa, Mallick, the same names pop up over and over again for a reason. They have a cinematic identity that radiates through their work, whether it’s a repetitive setting or a reoccurring theme.

 

It’s easy to identify a Wes Anderson movie because he has his team of regulars (like Owen Wilson and Bill Murray) on display. His wild pallet of bright colours easily identifies it as a wacky, almost surreal, universe only he could create. He’s so good at getting his vision across, people keep coming back for more.

 

That is the sign of the auteur filmmaker: creative control for a personal end product that resonates with the zeitgeist.

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What Makes Vancouver So Good for Movies?

InFocus Film School - Filming in Vancouver: A Cinematographers Guide

Written by Freddie Kim

 

Shooting in Vancouver has become a haven for film and television. Vancouver is considered a premier location, and was affectionately given the nickname “Hollywood North.” But what artistic edge does it have over other major cities? Here are 5 factors that differentiate shooting in Vancouver.

High Latitude For More Sun

Vancouver’s higher latitude means extended daytime shooting hours during summer–­ a huge boon for productions shooting on a tight timeline. During peak filming season, Vancouver gets up to 16 hours of daylight, two hours more than Los Angeles, yet avoids the southern California heat during summer.

Extended “Golden” Hours

With softer light, ideal lighting ratios and a warmer colour, the “golden” or “magic” hour after sunrise and before sunset is often the best time to shoot. In any given season, the sun in Vancouver remains lower on the horizon than in most US cities, giving Vancouver a magic hour that is actually way longer than one hour, and often spectacular for more than two.

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Cloudy Weather Means Great Diffusion

Vancouver often has a thick cloud cover that diffuses light. Harsh sunlight pouring above your subjects is complicated to control and a sky sprinkled with clouds is a nightmare due to constantly changing light. Cloudy grey skies make for constant lighting conditions and a much easier shoot.

Mild Winters Allow Year-Round Shooting

Although Vancouverites love to complain about it, rain isn’t always a bad thing. Our mild winters and lack of snow allow for a nearly year-round shooting window. Although uncomfortable to hold a shoot in the rain, it often doesn’t read on camera and can easily look moody, arty, and unlike anything that LA can offer.

Clean Air and Unfiltered Sunlight

Compared to popular American film locations, Vancouver’s air pollution is low. Cleaner air means a larger spectrum of unfiltered sunlight. In places with heavy pollution, sunlight may come pre­filtered and muted, negating much of its artistic usefulness. The lack of pollution during sunrise or sunset provides a gorgeous broad spectrum in Vancouver­ and exquisite backdrops.

Why Should New Directors Make Horror Films?

Written by Johnny Papan

 

Horror isn’t a genre often associated with prestige. In fact, only 6 freaky films have ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, the most recent being Jordan Peele’s directorial debut: Get Out. Despite this, as was the case with Peele, horror films have proven to be a launching pad for many of the world’s most renowned filmmakers. James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, Stephen Spielberg, and even Frances Ford Coppola have all honed their craft making horror films in their early career.

There are a multitude of reasons why this genre is a great place to develop your career as a film director. From the freedom to experiment, to lower financial risk, to a dedicated fanbase and beyond, here are our top 5 reasons why new directors should begin their career in horror.

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