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The Career Coach: It's Show Time

If you are an artist, it is essential that you have an outstanding portfolio and demo reel. The purpose of the resume, portfolio and demo reel is to get you an interview with someone who can hire you. They are marketing materials--prepare them with care.

If you are an artist, it is essential that you have an outstanding portfolio and demo reel.

What should you show?

The first step is to determine what your strengths and interests are. There are many different jobs for artists--from animators to modelers to graphic designers to web site developers to interface designers. You need to figure out what you like to do and what you are really good at. Assess your skills. Make sure the demo reel and portfolio are relevant to the job you want. If you want a job as a character animator, don't show only compositing work on your reel. Make sure your demo reel reflects the very best you can do and keep it short. Make them want to see more.

The purpose of the resume, portfolio and demo reel is to get you an interview with someone who can hire you. They are marketing materials--prepare them with care. Have others take a look at them and give you feedback before you send them out.

For artists, a demo reel and portfolio are more important than a resume.

Your demo reel should:

1. Be no longer than 3 minutes. It can be shorter.

2. Show variety. Do NOT be repetitive. It is not necessary to show the same work several times.

3. Contain only your best work.

4. Be dynamic.

5. Be irresistible.

6. Be labeled with your name and phone number and email address if you have one. Include slates on your reel with this information also in case the label falls off.

7. Be a VHS cassette in NTSC format. (This is the format almost all companies can deal with in the United States. If it's a PAL tape, be sure the company has a way to view it).

8. Be representative of your recent work and show your skills and talent

9. Be of high caliber and quality

Put the very best segment first.

Include slates on the tape or a written outline that describes each scene and what you did for that segment.

Remember your audience sees lots of demo reels and portfolios. Keep it moving.

If you must have your work returned, include a self-addressed stamped container for return. Never send your only copy to anyone.

If you have worked on an interactive project and want to submit your portfolio in a digital medium such as CD Rom, call the company before you send it to be sure they have the appropriate equipment to view it. Include a breakdown of how each piece was done and the constraints of production.

A portfolio of life drawing, illustration, photography (if you are interested in lighting), sculpture (if you are interested in modeling), character design or color design is a big plus. Many aspiring computer artists today have no foundation in fine art and the lack of training in aesthetics limits their capabilities. It's easier to train someone to learn a software package than to learn to draw. If you have a fine art background, include some of the work with your reel. Portfolios should have no more than 25 pages of work--and remember to include only your best work. As an alternative, you can film your art work and put it at the tail end of your tape with a slate that indicates "Fine Art" or something like that.

Whether you submit a demo reel, CD Rom, portfolio or all three, remember to always include a resume with it. And always include your phone # and an email address (if you have one) on your resume.

For more tips about demo reels, come to the ASIFA Expo. I will be moderating a panel on March 4, 2000 in Glendale, CA and you can hear what others have to say on the subject.

Resources:

To find out more about the ASIFA Expo:

ASIFA-Hollywood

If you have a question you want answered by the Career Coach on AWN, let us know.

Pamela Thompson is a career coach and recruiter who has worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation, Fox Feature Animation, Dream Quest Images, Digital Domain, Simex Digital Studios and Lucas Learning. She is currently recruiting for Big Idea Productions.

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