How to Create a Professional Film Reel

Do you want to submit your show-reel, latest movie production, audition tape or short film portfolio to a film festival or potential employer, but you don't know where to start?

What you need to decide first, is what are you going to put in your film showcase and whether the clips you will use are relevant to the person, or organization you are pitching to. Below is a simple guide to put you in the right direction on what to put in your film reel.

Quality of content

Choose wisely the footage you have that shows your directing, acting or other abilities in the strongest light possible. If you feel that the clip is slightly under par, don't use it, and most of all trust your instincts. When choosing the footage you want to include in your reel, think about who is going to look at it. It needs to be technically sound, with good imagery for directors, and a strong acting performance if it is for a particular kind of role you are auditioning for.

Who is going to watch my show-reel?

Put yourself in their shoes. Are you pitching to shoot a promo for a University? Show something they can relate to, like a corporate video you did for an educational establishment. Perhaps you don't have the right kind of footage so go out and create a promo, or shoot some footage that you can cut, showing your directing abilities.

If you are pitching to a film festival such as Berlin (Talent Campus) make sure that the films you select in your showreel cut well together. Sometimes the pace of a horror short, cut next to a RomCom doesn't go well in a promo, and you need to define an editing pace to fit the film reel.


The length of your film reel varies depending on who you send it to. If you are making a mini promo of your services to be put on a website, make it less than 3 minutes.

If you are making an audition tape, keep it under 5 minutes. You don't want to show a full length short or feature to a casting director when applying for an audition. Don't forget, time is money. The shorter, the better.


Does your film reel say 'This guy knows how to make an action movie' or 'This girl can sure make her images look gorgeous'. Or does it say 'Damn, this director can't work with actors.' It is very easy to judge the quality of someone's work in the first 10 seconds, and often when we meet people in real life, we judge them in a blink of an eye. The impact factor needs to be early on in your showreel but not on the first second. Build up to your finest work, be creative with your footage, and make a mini story within your showreel that gives an image of what you can do.

Think about this. Do you want to impress a music label with your taste for visuals and crazy shooting style? Make your film reel have its own style. look at what's out there, and make it unique to you.


Music can help create an emotional link to your showreel. A beautiful piece of music with some stunning visuals can have a big impact on the perfume brand you want to shoot promos for compared to a rock theme that doesn't bode well with the audience you are reaching out to. Of course if you are an actor, you don't want to have ANY music in your showreel.

There are some things you definitely don't want to add to your showreel that could damage your chances of getting a call back:

Long credit sequences

Do you have a 20 second, cross fading credit sequence at the start of your 3 minute showreel? Get rid of it now. Credits need to be at the end of your film reel, with contact information depending on the nature of your application.

Excessive cross fades

Don't use cross fades between clips. It looks amateur and it takes away the aesthetic of your images by making them look 'cheap'. Try to create one clear cut promo with as few fades as possible. It needs to flow.

MTV style cutting

If you are desperate to cram the 8 music videos you have done into a 1 minute reel, think about the impact that will have on your audience. If your promo is too fast, people will get turned off. You may have fast paced footage, which is fine, but if you try to cram in too much visually exciting material, it is more likely the person viewing your clip will think this is how you shoot all your videos. Keep a consistent pace between clips if you can.

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