Aug 19, 2008

Basic Film Portfolio Skills

So you're going into, already in, or just leaving film school and you're asking yourself, "What should I consider when making my film portfolio?". What should you include? What's the value of putting together a portfolio in the first place? As a film student just months ago and as an avid independent filmmaker I'd like to share a few things to consider when constructing your film portfolio that I found have helped me get work, and in general, have just made it easier to share my projects.

First things first, if you don't believe in what your creating it's easy to say that no one else will. I'll state the obvious and say, if you're attempting a portfolio you'll first need some decent projects (get some critical feedback from profs, film fests, use your best judgement, etc. to help figure this out). If you can't explain your work, if you don't have a defense or justification for it, than you're not really showing your creative control of it and what kind of sell is that? Consider this when your sitting down and reviewing all the projects you've done. You'll want to know your selections inside and out because there's always questions about why you did things the way you did.

Ultimately you want to compile a cross-section of your projects that you feel highlight your skills, concepts, and interests for the simple sake of presenting yourself as a motivated, unique, and focused filmmaker. True, at this film student stage you won't necessarily be proposing your skills to the most illustrious ends of the industry, but there is a lot to be said about passion. How you present yourself is half the battle. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) The Shorter the Better:
The more you can get across in less time, the less likely you'll be diluting your portfolio. You don't have to include full projects. Select clips that showcase what it is you feel is the real strength of your film. If cutting down some of your projects means you can include more work, you'll not only save the viewer time, you'll be providing a wider representation of your talent.

2) It's All About Variety:
You never know who might ask to see your portfolio so construct it with diversity in mind. I've always included one of my experimental, narrative, music video and/or promotional shorts not only for the difference in style, but to show that my interests are varied as well.

3) Keep It Current:
Since I'm always working on new things, and because I simply can tire of some of my old projects, I've re-worked my portfolio about once a year since my early film school days to keep it fresh. Having an even spread of old and new work is important because strong older work speaks to experience and new work speaks to your drive.

4) Organization and Promotion:
This is your portfolio so make sure who ever is watching it knows it. I've always included my name and contact information at the top of the DVD menu, on the disc, and the DVD sleeve. I keep the layout of the DVD clean and simple on a single menu, and have often highlighted the selections by listing the festival credits of each project just below. The presentation shows confidence in yourself and pride in the work you're presenting.

5) Always Have A Backup:
This is probably the easiest guideline. If you've gone through all the work of making a promotional film portfolio DVD, make sure you have hard copies prepared so it's simply a matter of getting it if someone asks. The hassle of rushing to reburn, organize and find files is saved by just having a few discs on your shelf for anyone who asks, or anyone you need to send it to. If you're a filmmaker you should know anyways: always have a backup!

So there's a few basics. It comes down to your personal talent and how hard you feel like working. The more excited you are about it, the more you'll naturally push yourself to standout. Just know there's a lot of competition, so shortcuts aren't necessarily the best option. Best of luck!

1 comment :

M said...

I found that it doesn't hurt to change your portfolio for the job. For example if your trying to get a wedding for a new couple show then wedding video's, if your applying for a VFX job show them VFX etc... I like the idea of a montage or collective advertisement added in on all of them. Also with the name definitely be clear in the menu (s). The nicest one I have seen had a separate menu with the contact information on it, that way your main menu can wow and if it works they can click on the option below to find out your contact. But like you said its all basic advice in the end be creative and make it to your liking, be particular and if it seems not to work maybe adjust or try new things out.