Put your best stuff first

15 to 20 seconds. 

Sometimes, that’s all the time it took Paul Gluck to make a decision on someone’s career.  Gluck, currently an associate professor at Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater, was at one time a major market news director.  And he says when he had an opening and was judging demo reels that were sent his way, often times he would decide whether or not a person was worthy of being on the air at this station…

…in 15 to 20 seconds…

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking before one of Gluck’s classes at Temple.  When the subject of what to put on a demo DVD came up, the former producer, writer, executive producer, executive editor and V.P../ station manager spoke from years of experience, not to mention hundreds of hours of looking at demo after demo after demo.

This 15 to 20 second example is meant as a simple reminder for all of you who are feverishly editing demo reels and wondering what exactly to put on them.  While chances are a news or sports director will look at a bit more than the first 15 to 20 seconds, the principle is still the same: be sure to put your best stuff first.

Often, I recommend putting a montage of stand-ups at the top of your reel to give some quick depth and breadth to your work.  Ironically, Gluck told his class that when he was a news director, he had preferred at times to see a full report at the top of a reel. 

This is not meant to confuse you, only to enlighten you to the importance of putting your absolute best material first on a demo reel.  And that includes leaving out  any bad edits, video hits, graphic mistakes or other imperfections that might be present in some of your material.  While any or all of these errors might not be your fault, the fact that you are including them as examples of your work is your fault.  In other words, it might show a news or sports director that your judgment is clouded—that you’d be willing while working in his or her shop to allow these mistakes to hit air—and that’s simply not good. 

So no matter what it is, make sure you hit them with your best shot.  Whether it’s a montage, a full report or something else you’ve done, make it your best work.  Indeed for some, 15 to 20 seconds might be all the time you have. 

At www.marczumoff.com, we’ll help you produce and edit fresh material for a demo reel to be sure you’re putting your best stuff, first. 

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