By: Mandy Mitchell
Like most people who have been in this business a while, I get asked to look at a lot of resume reels. One thing you should absolutely understand is that I am no expert on resume reels. I don’t think anyone is, really. What gets you a job with one shop could be thrown out in 6 seconds at another.
I can tell you a few things that ALWAYS stand out to me as looking “small market.” These are things I see in reel after reel. Yes, they are coming from folks in small markets, but these folks are trying to move up. It’s time to start looking big market if you want to be big market!
**I can only speak about on-air reels here**
1- Poorly framed interviews
I can’t tell you how many times I see interviews in PKGs on reporter’s tapes that are not framed well. Your interview should look like this:
There should be head room and room in front of the person and he shouldn’t be looking at the camera, but looking at you.
This is an example of stuff I see often:
2- Interviews shot against a wall
Please DON’T DO THIS! You want to have some depth in your shot. Let’s say you are shooting in a classroom and want some books in the background. You’ll want to seat your subject several feet in front of the books…not right in front of the books. The idea is to get the books to be a bit out of focus.
I made this mistake many times as a young sports reporter. I thought shooting in a locker room would look “awesome” and “just like ESPN.” So I would put the player on the locker room bench, roughly a foot front of the locker. Didn’t look awful, but you should instead get a chair and get that person as far away from the locker as is logistically possible.
3- A hand holding a mic in a shot
You should be using a lav for any PKG worthy of your resume tape. I don’t want to see your wrist and your ugly mic in the shot. If you don’t have a lav, make sure you frame the mic out of the shot. Most of us have editing equipment with zoom functions now. Use it!
While we are on the subject of lavs and looking “small market,” I don’t want to see the mic wire hanging from the shirt. Go ahead and take the extra 30 seconds and have your subject hide the wire behind a tie or under the shirt.
4- Jump cuts and too many dissolves
Learn the value of close-ups, and cutaways. If you are an MMJ, learn to shoot those. If you are working with a young photographer, learn to ask for those. Don’t rely on dissolves to get you out of trouble. The best storytellers only use dissolves for impact, not to avoid a jump cut.
5- Clothing that makes you appear young
I can’t stress this enough. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Do not wear trendy clothing. Do not wear shorts in a stand-up. Do not let me see you wearing flip-flops during a live shot. Why am I saying all of this obvious stuff? Because I have seen them all on resume reels.
I am amazed at what young people not only think is ok for on-air attire, but think is ok for a resume reel. This should be a reflection of you at your absolute best. Would you wear a tank top to an interview? How about don’t put that shot on your reel!
6- Music in PKGs
I am sure I will spend an entire post writing about this subject alone at some point. Let me first say I am not against music at all. I have used music many times.
What I am against, and what makes someone appear “small market,” is simply adding a music bed to a pkg to make it “sadder.”
Doing a story on cancer? Add some sad music! YUCK!!
If you don’t know how to properly add music to your story, please don’t do it. If you like music, I encourage you to watch people who use music well and learn how it works. Until then, I encourage you to rely on NAT sound and writing to make your stories standout.
This post is originally from summer 2016