We sat down with the Hollywood composer Christopher Lennertz (The Boys, Lost In Space, Horrible Bosses) to talk about how important demo reels are, and how using ReelCrafter’s metrics can help make every pitch better than the last.
Full transcript of the video interview is below.
Hi, my name is Christopher Lennertz, and I’m a composer for film, TV, and video games and I’ve done things like The Boys and Lost In Space, Ride Along, and others, and I’m here today to talk about ReelCrafter.
Why are demo reels so important?
Demo reels, I think, are of utmost importance to getting a job as a composer, really, regardless of your level in the industry and how busy you are, and even regardless of how well you know whoever the director or producer might be on a project.
Because there are always lots of people involved. There are many people who want to know what your plan, or what your pitch, is for that kind of movie or show, be it at the studio level or music supervisor level. So everyone wants to be able to hear. And so it’s an easy way for me to show everyone involved with the project what I can do.
The process of sending demos before ReelCrafter was not a lot of fun. I’ve been around long enough that I can actually admit to pressing start and stop on cassette decks, lots of “toasters and coasters” that did not work in the old CD-burning days.
But more recently, it’s been a lot of, you know, sending zip files via, you know, Dropbox and WeTransfer, and ridiculous things like that, and it’s just, literally, text on a computer file.
It doesn’t feel like anything. It doesn’t feel like there’s any vested creative interest in it. There’s nothing worse than feeling faceless or personality-less, especially when you’re submitting to people who you don’t know or someone you’ve never collaborated with.
There’s nothing worse than feeling faceless or personality-less
It was time (it was actually long overdue)for something like ReelCrafter to come along where you can easily change the order of things and actually have it look like a very specific demo.
I mean, I think that’s probably the most important point. By sending it through ReelCrafter, I can
have my personality shine through in terms of my stuff. I can certainly tailor things so that a particular project is addressed. You can make sure that the graphics or things actually specifically
Little things like that, they’re subconscious. But when they’re looking at twenty, thirty composers sometimes, and they have to make a big decision, anything we can do as a composer to feel like we have tailored not only the music but the whole presentation for that particular movie—that project. It instills a lot of confidence in whoever’s hiring us, and I think this goes a long way to doing that.
How does ReelCrafter improve collaboration?
Before, when I would do a reel, especially if I was working with either my agent or my assistant, or both, I would literally have to zip files. Send them. Delete files. They would add files. And there was no way for us to have one solid hosted place where it was the only version of that.
So things would get lost, and things would be named weird. And so, for me, the best part is the fact that I can easily have my assistant jump on and say, okay, I’m going to take a shot at reordering this and putting the action queue up front.
“I just heard that that’s more what they’re looking for.” Or “You know what, they really love cues with vocals.” and that’s, especially when I’m not necessarily even around, sometimes I might be making a reel from London, or wherever.
We can make sure that we can all be involved in the process. But it takes a lot of the pressure off me as the composer to spend all the time doing it. And it still ends up being the best sales pitch because it’s so focused for the project that you’re specifically going for.
And that’s, I mean, that puts you ahead of the game, definitely.
It’s the best sales pitch because it’s so focused for the project
What’s your favorite ReelCrafter feature?
The tracking feature is really amazing. We were talking about before when we didn’t know who was watching, who was looking, who was listening to our reels. We didn’t even know if someone had listened.
What we used to have to do was follow up and say, “Have you heard it yet? Have you listened?” Which never feels great, and there’s a lot of pressure in it.
And now you don’t have to do that. You don’t want to be the pest who has to call and bug anybody. You want to just be able to know, okay, they’ve listened; they listened a bunch of times. They only listened once? “Okay, well, I guess I know how that went too.”
And it’s just nice to be able to know that without having to get into that awkward situation of bugging someone who’s really busy. And the amazing thing now is not only can you see what they’ve listened to; did they listen to the whole thing? Have they gone all the way through? Did they repeat it a bunch of times?
It helps not only with that reel and with this job, but to know, I mean, there are certain cues that I may love that people aren’t listening to over and over again. There may be cues that I didn’t think
were all that special or attention-grabbing and, you know, if I send enough reels and I start realizing, “Oh my God, everyone’s playing that track. Wow, I should make sure that’s like number one every time I send it out.”
And so I think that’s really important.
I should make sure that’s like number one every time I send it out
Before ReelCrafter came along, there was nothing like this. I was waiting. I mean, like all of us, all of my colleagues and I were waiting for some sort of a program where we could do this exact thing.
And it’s like they were listening. It’s really the right product for exactly what we needed. Which is, of course, because it was made by composers.