Portfolio Management: How to develop your portfolio?

This article is aimed towards beginners but existing professionals can find these tips useful too.

Showreel has been a topic of discussion for a long time. People struggle to put their work together for that presentation, which will help them to get an interview call. I look at an interview process as the result of Preparation, Compilation and Presentation.


When it comes to preparation, the prospective employee must be thoroughly prepared. Pitching in studios with a common showreel is not a good idea; the showreel must be studio specific;. A few things that you should find out about a studio before compiling your Final works:

  • What is their portfolio?
  • What they are looking for?
  • How do they expect to see the work (which format)?
  • If possible, a reference in the studio.

Most of this information is already available on a studio’s website.


Compilation is all about the selection. What to display and what not to display!. A good research about a studio’s past and present works would give you a fair idea about creating your showreel. No substandard work must be added. In case you are doubtful about any such work then try to improve it or else remove it.


This part of the process is all about presenting what you have, right from the CD covers to the content inside. The layout, color scheme and the music in the reel must complement each other.

All the three parts of the process are equally important and none should be ignored.

Guidelines for further approach.

Cover Letter:

  • It is always good to add a short and precise covering letter.
  • Always mention the department you are applying for, ensuring that your reel is assessed by the right person.
  • If you were referred by someone, definitely mention it.
  • Include a few references.
  • There is a great quote: “When your work speaks for itself, there’s no need to interrupt”. Do not over-write. It sets high expectations and makes the interviewer more critical in his judgment.
  • Check your spelling, grammar, punctuation and typos. Mistakes in your writing will suggest that you don’t revise.


  • Avoid irrelevant experience; it just lengthens the CV.
  • Mention hobbies related to the nature of your work. It adds to the interest level. For example, animators involved in acting would be highly appreciated.
  • If looking forward to a head position do mention it in your CV but do not over-state.

Demo Reel:

  • A website is a quick and acceptable way of showcasing your work to your prospective employer these days. Most companies clearly mention how they want the show reels to reach them on their website.
  • Many portfolios are accessible on web these days. Watch as many as possible. Study them (layouts, presentation style, music and visuals in sync, speed of the reel etc) and come up with your own style of presentation.
  • Put your best works first. Due to the volume of reels received for review, if the first few seconds of a reel are not interesting then the rest is examined in fast-forward mode and examiners might miss your best piece.
  • Don’t repeat any work. It gives the feeling that you do not have sufficient work to display.
  • Keep it short! Three minutes is the general target length.
  • Have simple and short introductions. Get to the main part of your reel as soon as possible.
  • DO NOT PUT OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK ON YOUR REEL! If at all there is some reference data, give credit to the creator of the work. This adds value and authenticity to your approach.
  • Don’t send inappropriate work. A studio that works on realistic art works might not show much interest in stylized works.
  • Label your CD/DVD clearly. Put your contact information on the body of the CD/DVD. This makes it easier to locate CD/DVDs in case they separate from the resumes.Drawing and sketches could help to showcase your traditional skills. But only the best must be included or else it will backfire.
  • Animators should have acting in their animation movie clips. Try to animate emotions. Present different styles (classical, semi-realistic, stop motion or realistic) in order to show your command over the skill. There are various animation film making courses available in India to enhance your animation skills. You can definitely go for these courses if you want to make your career in animation film making.
  • Don’t mention the abilities that you don’t want to be discussing.
  • Unreleased work should be on the reel by consent of the employer. The same should be conveyed to the interviewer to avoid mishandling.
  • Choose your background music wisely. Music and visuals should be in sync.
  • Include some personal work on your reel. It helps to understand what you can do on your own as well as what you can do as part of a team or when being directed.


  • Research about the company before appearing for the interview. Most likely you will be asked why you want to join the organization. Your answer must be as natural as possible, as further questions would depend on it. Be true of what you say and try to add value to the answer.
  • Be on time. Remember, first impression is the lasting impression.
  • Dress appropriately. It is ok to be better dressed then the interviewer; he is already in job and you are looking for one.
  • Try to reflect a positive attitude and share all your positive qualities complimented with examples. If you want to mention that you are a great Team Player, then do support it with instances.
  • Keep extra copies of your resume. Your previous resume or reel might not be handy with the interviewer.
  • Never speak negative about any colleague or employer; it’s a negative approach. If at all you happen to mention something, put it in a subtle manner.

Follow up:

Keep in mind that it often takes a while before a demo reels gets reviewed. If you haven’t heard anything for 2 weeks or so, it is okay to call and make sure your submission was received. But don’t be a pest. After an interview, it is always a good idea to send a (genuine) follow up letter thanking your prospective employer for taking the time to meet you. But do not contact the company repeatedly. If you don’t get hired and you really want to work at a particular company, resubmit your materials in 6 months or so. Studio’s needs and criteria change all the time. Your skills/style might not have been appropriate for last year’s project, but they might be right for the new one.


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