View Full Version : resume montages
Jun 27th 2005, 06:57 AM
I've been viewing our daily talent reels.
Please...Show us some reporting.
Okay...you can walk, talk, point, and touch...
But can anyone write and tell a story?
Can anyone take scraps and make chicken salad with universal appeal?
I'm not seeing it, here...just a parade of stand-ups from misguided people who seem to think that being live and not stumbling all over themselves is reporting.
How about an original story?
Show us some writing.
Anything BUT your faces for more than 20 seconds after more than three cuts. What are you trying to show with all those live shots?
That you do them?
I suppose the ideal opener on a resume reel would include a live hit with a terriffic wrap. This shouldn't be a novel concept.
[ June 27, 2005, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: upandown ]
Jun 27th 2005, 07:41 AM
I've cut more versions of my tape over the years than I care to admit, and I've made the kind of mistakes up talks about alo;ng the way.
What it comes down to is this: it's a delicate balance the job applicant has to strike. You need to let the news director know what you look like, natch. You have to show you don't waste your time on camera. And you have to show you can do good work.
So what to do with the montage?
Keep it short. Don't fall in love with yourself. These minute and half long montages are a ticket to the trash can. Three, maybe four of your best. Not showing us that you can talk and pump gas at the same time. Not showing us that the snow by the side of the road does indeed come up past your elbow. Not a demonstration of your being able to successfully traverse the six feet from one part of the crime scene tape to another. If it's a standup, it's gotta be unique, and it's gotta be useful.
News directors want the montage to show that yes, you have a background doing live shots, that you know how to put on makeup (men and women) and that you don't break the lens. That's it. Three eleents in the montage does that dine. By the time :45 seconds rolls around, you better be into your best story or your wasting their time.
Jun 27th 2005, 07:50 AM
I do not envy you guys for having to put together a resume tape. As a director all I have to do is roll on last night's show (or, for my latest tape it ouwld be last october's show) and make sure I'm getting good levels on my director's track.
Jun 27th 2005, 11:47 AM
No problem with ND's emphasizing looks.
But where is the content?
Besides, most reporters do not look or sound as good to others as they do to themselves.
[ June 27, 2005, 12:50 PM: Message edited by: upandown ]
Jun 27th 2005, 12:06 PM
While I agree that content should reign supreme, I'm afraid you might be in the minority with many news directors. Have you seen the kids they put on air? They have no experience, they can't write a story coherently, but they sure look pretty (and probably come cheap). I've been in the office of two different news directors as they watched resume tapes (one to assist in a hire, the other time just to observe) and if they don't like how you LOOK in the first 20 seconds, out comes the tape. They don't even get to the content. "I hate her haircut," one ND said. I'm thinking, "Can't that be changed?" So, it appears to me that looks matter first and foremost, and only then do NDs care about your storytelling ability, if they care at all. Is it wrong? YES, but I think it's a fact of tv life.
Jun 27th 2005, 12:24 PM
When you only have 3 minutes for a clip on the "talent" section of this site .. there isnt much time for actual story content.
If I were to use a PKG .. there wouldnt be any time left for a montage and anchoring clips
Jun 27th 2005, 12:28 PM
Originally posted by upandown:
But can anyone write and tell a story?The sad part is I think fewer stations care anymore. They just want their reporters LIVE in front of whatever's happening at the moment. Forget perspective, forget storytelling, what's happening NOW?! And don't forget, is the person who's telling me what happens 20-something, blond and attractive? If not, I'll move on to the next tape. And you wonder why people keep clicking past you to see what else is on that might be worth watching.
Jun 27th 2005, 01:44 PM
I really respect your work, and your opinions. I actually worked with you a while ago, but as a PA so you wouldn't know me.
Anyway, my point is, you shouldn't offer something about what's wrong with everybody's tape without also saying what a tape should look like. So, give us an outline of what the contents of a resume tape should be.
Jun 27th 2005, 03:09 PM
I think you got your answer already south..."a live hit with a terrific wrap."
I think when NDs start hiring based on content, you'll begin to see more of it show up on tapes.
Jun 27th 2005, 03:22 PM
There's an old saying in the legal profession:
"If the law is on your side, pound the law.
If the facts are on your side, pound the facts.
If neither is on your side, pound the podium."
Which brings us to the resume montage situation:
"If digging's where you dwell, that's what you sell.
If your writing is done well, ring that bell.
If neither seems too swell... live-shot hell."
Smoke and mirrors are cheaper than the real deal.
Jun 27th 2005, 03:53 PM
What's wrong with building a little mystery?
I once did an actual story about a news director screening tapes. He says on camera, "I'm just like the viewer at home. I'm flippin' channels. And if I see something I like, I watch."
So, if you don't look great or sound great, and trust me, most reporters don't, then lead with your strength. If you're a curveball pitcher with a lousy fastball, open with the curve. The job market is competitive enough.
If I were to make a reel, it would hook them in the first ten seconds with my best story...one so good, so compelling, so UNIVERSAL, that they watch just out curiosity. If you can reach a news director at that level, you'll probably want to work for him, and he might be the type you want hiring you.
What do I mean by universal?
I moved from my first job as a shooter in Louisville, across town to a reporting position, to reporting in Dallas, to reporting in San Francisco---in two years, at 27. Those reels contained chicken salad stories. Every piece told a story to which anyone, anywhere, could relate. This means that if you get a big scoop, great...but the scoop may mean nothing out of your market. You'll have to find a way to make them care.
And I'd make the tape short enough that they would ask for more. Leave them wanting more.
If I were a reporter I wouldn't be selling my looks. I'd be selling my storytelling, writing, and presence through the sound of my voice.
Trust me. If you can report, write, tell stories, and sound good doing them, you will get a job as a reporter. Remember...even when doing live shots, reporters are still heard much more than seen.
[ June 27, 2005, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: upandown ]
Jun 27th 2005, 06:16 PM
Originally posted by upandown:
What are you trying to show with all those live shots?
They are trying to show what news directors have consistently indicated that they want to see. At my last station, I tried to make a move within the company. The ND at my prospective station had an opening. I e-mailed to ask what he wanted to see on a tape. He said he wanted a tape that demonstrated creative standups and "lots of live."
He didn't say word one about television storytelling.
He's not unique. Forget resume tapes; look at TV newscasts. In fat few of them do you see anyone telling compelling stories. The slogan is "Live, Local and Late Breaking." Not, "Live (if warranted), Thoughtful and Well Told."
Many stations not only don't value storytelling they often can't even recognize it. And among their splashy graphics, emoting anchors and thumping music beds, a subtle story gets muddled in the cacophony.
As someone who is closer to balding brown than bleached blond, I don't like it but in most markets that's what the business has become.
If you want to work in it, you send the tape that shows them the kind of work they want to see -- not the type you'd like to do.
Jun 27th 2005, 06:21 PM
upandown...very well put.
John M...very well put.
Both of you are right.
Shaky & Blue
Jun 27th 2005, 07:02 PM
The emphasis isn't just on looks. It's also on performance. NDs want someone who can stand there and perform live in such a way that people are compelled to watch. It doesn't matter what the reporter says, as long as the performance scores points with the audience.
That's what that ND who popped the tape after a few seconds was seeking. He wanted to see an attractive person performing well on camera, becaues he believes that's what the audience wants.
Jun 27th 2005, 07:20 PM
Problem is that in most of those stand-ups, the reporters do not perform well. Instead, they're doing worse imitations of already bad television.
At the very least, cut the montages on phrases, clauses, sentences, and energy levels.
It is possible to do a montage that, while unrelated, does flow. I've shown one in my reporting seminar for years.
Jun 27th 2005, 07:28 PM
Speaking of tapes...
U&D, I have an updated reel I'd like for you to shred. Are you up for some cajun goodies?
Jun 27th 2005, 08:26 PM
The danger we face when the montage reigns supreme is there's absolutely no check on content.
I remember a reporter candidate who had by far the best tape we'd seen. Fortunately, my ND put more stock in the current events quiz.
Among the candidate's questions:
Who are the U.S. Senators from your current state?
Who is the Vice-President of the United States?
Three strikes and you're out.
(That person wound up in market a few months later across town.)
David Busse has already nailed down the concept of being a "newsroom citizen." Part of that notion would include being a "citizen journalist." Be the kind of person who has a grasp on reality, and what it means to live in a neighborhood. Too many reporters are transients. They ply their trade and pour another magic bean from their bag of tricks. The sack usually runs dry in about 24 months, and it's time to mosey on to a bigger city with bigger salaries and better bars. (Just don't get stuck doing very many zoning, education, or political stories. They don't make for good live shots, and "no live" equals "DOA" in the news director's office.)
Don't be that person. Be the reporter that the other shops hate to see approaching the courthouse. Better yet -- be the reporter that the other shops only see on the air, because you've beaten them with enterprise and gumption. Just don't be discouraged if your tape lacks some flash and sizzle. You didn't want to work in those shops anyway.
Then tell stories, with beginnings, middles, and ends. Make the viewers think you nailed the story you were after all along, even if you had to re-adjust the target. Make the magic... and come back and do it tomorrow.
Or, just do what upandown said.
Jun 27th 2005, 08:42 PM
As long as it's reasonably brief, what the heck...
Originally posted by The Fedora:
Speaking of tapes...
U&D, I have an updated reel I'd like for you to shred. Are you up for some cajun goodies?
[ June 27, 2005, 09:43 PM: Message edited by: upandown ]
Jun 27th 2005, 10:20 PM
These days everything has to be told in 1:20-1:30. I used to tell reporters their story could be as long as a man's leg. Some times you need more time to tell a story, other times a little less. A good producer will let a story breathe. The clock does run your life, but you have control over how fast or slow it ticks.
Back to the measure at hand--stand ups just aren't what they were. People use them as bridges, weak ones if that.(Don't watch network feed reporters!) I remember looking at one reporter's tape because we needed to do a phone interview with her. It was damn near impossible to get a good head shot for the graphics department because she was always doing these creative, moving stand ups. Anyone can do a walkie talkie. Why the hell doesn't anyone use a series of standups to tell a story anymore? I love 3 part stand ups. There's movement, we're going some where, and it's creative!
Scotch On The Rocks
Jun 27th 2005, 10:43 PM
I'm a little lost here. So excuse me for asking the obvious. But I've always been told to start your resume tape with a stand up montage. Always. And the reason is because the ND wants to see YOU first, not your work.
If they were looking for writing they'd ask you to send scripts.
And they don't.
I'm not defending the practice. I'm just giving in to what's expected. And now you want me to go and do something that will all but guarantee that I'm thrown in the who cares pile?
I'd love it if you were a ND. But you're not. They're stupid and they want to see a montage. Or so I'm told.
Jun 27th 2005, 11:20 PM
I make great chicken salad... with hand-pulled shredded chicken, sweet green grapes, water chestnuts, walnuts, apples, and pickles. Oh, and a little Miracle Whip to make it all stick together.
It's great on a croissant.
Jun 28th 2005, 04:16 AM
How does your criteria change when viewing mets tapes...or does it? (Say for a hypothetical morning/noon spot..what do you look for)
Jun 28th 2005, 04:48 AM
Sorry, but I never look at met tapes. If I did, performance would weigh heavily. The weather almost always runs too long...that's what I think. And doing the weather is one of the few on-air jobs that has improved in past years.
My point is this. Too many resume reels emphasize montages more than content. On Today's Talent, some of these montages run the full two minutes. NOBODY is that interesting.
All those cutsie tosses, banter, and faux familiarity mean NOTHING to viewers or potential employers for whom you are not an acquired or familiar taste.
IF you feel compelled to open with a montage, keep it to three cuts and no more than 30 seconds. If appearance is not your strength, then lead with whatever is, instead.
Consider the guy today...not to pick on him, but he happens to be in the box. He looks pleasant enough, earnest enough, and eager enough, but he opens with a montage of five, so-so-stand-ups about subjects that are irrelevant to the the rest of the world. They sell neither him, nor the stories. Then, after about one minute, he shows a package---a very average follow to a plane crash---a story he never properly sold. Is that his best, most universal story in his stated three years of experience? He must have something better. I think the guy's getting bad advice. He's trying to do the reel he THINKS he should do, instead of the reel that sells himself. We often make the same mistakes with stories. We do the piece we THINK our bosses want, ignoring the better angles that might also be there. We play it safe.
I like David Busse's line: "In your tape, your work should emulate the market where you want to work---not the one you're working in, now."
This guy's reel still looks like State College, Pa. I think he's probably better than that....or at least has the potential.
Hopefully some news director will see that, and give him a step-up job.
[ June 28, 2005, 08:23 AM: Message edited by: upandown ]
Jun 28th 2005, 03:02 PM
I'm trying the "content" thing with my current reel...although it does have a montage with more than three cuts. it doesn't seem to be working. it's even been shredded by upandown.
it's time to make a new version. part of me wants to slap all the live shots I do almost everyday together at the top and see if that works. but this thread has me thinking more "universally" maybe I'll just put my best straight pack off the top. I do have some "universal" stories, but some are old...and my most universal may be the very first story I did at my current shop more than two years ago.
it just might work.
BTW...that story about the ND watching tapes is great. I still remember the ND(from KING in Seattle?) searching for "it"
Jun 28th 2005, 03:24 PM
Yes, even you, Mr. G, overdid the montages.
They detracted from your storytelling abilities.
[ June 28, 2005, 04:27 PM: Message edited by: upandown ]