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This is What a Director's Sizzle Reel or Mood/Tone Film Looks Like: Joe Carnahan's 'Daredevil'

08.17.12 @ 1:07PM Tags : , ,

One way a professional director increases their chances of being chosen to direct a commercial or feature film is by creating a sizzle reel or mood/tone film. Directors will often read a ton of scripts for features but when they finally decide they want to pursue a project, they’ll put together a short trailer using clips from other movies that helps to convey their vision and the mood or tone (hence the name) of the film they want to make. I actually got to work in the office next to Joe Carnahan during my time at Ridley Scott & Associates and was lucky enough to see his mood film for his latest movie, The Grey. While his take on Daredevil may never see the light of day, we get to see exactly what his vision was for the movie, and in the process get a rare glimpse at the quality and scope of a Hollywood mood/tone film.

Thanks to Stu Maschwitz for the link. There are two versions, with the second being a bit more mature in content:

This sort of thing has been discussed on NoFilmSchool before, when our own Ryan Koo created a lookbook for Manchild that incorporated clips from other films. Though that particular video was a bit different from the typical mood or tone film, it still utilized movie clips in much the same way. The other difference is that he wasn’t auditioning for the job (since it was his own script and he was already attached as director), but it was still helpful for potential producers to get a sense of his vision for the movie.

While it’s unfortunate that we may never get to see the final product after getting a look at Carnahan’s sizzle reel, it’s important to see how this sort of thing is done in the professional world. I’ve seen quite a few of these reels, and though most of them were for commercial jobs, they all were done in a way that reflected the pacing, tone, and vision of the director. A standard reel can only take you so far, and if you’ve got a job that you’re competing for in the future, consider putting one of these together, as it’s a relatively cheap way to get your ideas into a physical form.

Link: Prolost – Stu Maschwitz


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  • I’m glad it fell through.

    I’m really passionate about Daredevil and it needs to be done right.

    Joe Carnahan is a great director but this project wasn’t for him.

    • I love DD too, but this would’ve been INCREDIBLE. Highly stylized & specific to DD’s mythos. Damn.

  • Antoine Benhini on 08.17.12 @ 2:26PM

    Thanks for sharing. This is very inspiring. I would have give him the job !

  • And then there’s this amazing one for Kerry Conran’s John Carter of Mars:

  • Awesome post, Joe. It’s things like this that keep me coming back to this site. I’ve seen mood clips before, but generally just for fashion and TV material, nothing to this extent, and hadn’t seen one for a film pitch either. Will definitely have to apply it to my own work in the future.

    • Thanks – yeah Joe is a pretty cool guy so I’m glad this got posted online so we could share it. I got to see a lot of these but the ones I saw were never made public. Creating these was standard operating procedure at RSA for most commercials as well the ones I got to see for the features in pre-production.

  • Wrango Davenlo on 08.17.12 @ 10:40PM

    Joe Carnahans best movie was NARC. Didn’t see the grey. Im glad this got shut down.
    The mere thought of superfly playing during the trailer,even for mood. Ugh.
    Thanks for the post, though!

  • Michael Locke on 08.18.12 @ 9:01AM

    Wow. Never seen one. So you just sample like a DJ, for around 90 seconds. And this is SOP for a business pitch for most serious projects? So no one cares that you “borrow” work from The Warriors, Taxi Driver, Enter the Dragon (or was it Fists of Fury?), music by Curtis Mayfield, etc. I guess YouTube is the library for downloads, but where would you get a higher res sample (at least Blu-ray bitrate, HD)?
    Love to see another piece on how someone who makes these for a living sketches out an outline, auditions samples, and why they pick what they do for each project. Fascinating post on content that the “public” never sees.

    • I don’t know if no one cares but yes, this is how it’s done, for literally everything. These are rarely done in HD – it’s not really the quality of the video that matters, just that you can see it and hear it and get your point across.

    • If a remix project that makes heavy use of other people’s work never actually gets released, no harm done. Which is why most of these never make it to YouTube, I guess.

      • Most of them never make it online because there is no reason to show them off, they are simply rough ideas of a potential vision – but yes – part of the reason has to do with not owning the rights to most (or any), of the footage.

  • Terrible. I would have said no after 30 seconds. This “montage” is about as professional as a fan film done by 14 year olds.

  • Stumbled on to this announcement on IMDB, showing he is slated to direct the reboot.