The Film Business

How Film and TV Professionals Can Benefit From Web Portfolios

Filmmaking

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to some inspiring professionals in the film/TV industry. The topic? Web Portfolios. While doing research for my new book Show Case, I interviewed various folks including Thomas Walsh the President of Art Directors Guild, Amy Whitten, a Production Designer and Art Director who resides in Massachusetts, and Ann Cudworth, a designer of virtual sets and an Emmy Award winner.

“The wide array of today’s off-the-shelf digital tools must surely be regarded as magical as they have endowed us with a unique ability to create and communicate both an understanding and appreciation for our talents and capabilities as never before,” says Thomas Walsh the President of Art Directors Guild. “The power and potential to network and promote one’s work through the use of a dedicated website or the other social networking media such as Facebook cannot be overstated. The ability to make one’s work accessible through the use of these new tools on a 24/7 basis can make a significant difference in how one is seriously considered by a potential employer.“

What Thomas Walsh is referring to is individual branding. Individual branding is the process whereby individual’s careers are self-packaged and marked as a brand. This includes special talents, body of work, and personal style –aspects that will leave a uniquely distinguishable impression with prospective employers. The use of brands containing personal logos and banners continue to gain in popularity as a tool through social networking sites like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. When designing an individual brand, it is important to look at one’s body of work as if it was a design for a production.

Production Designer Amy Whitten adds the following to this topic: “S. G. Collins, filmmaker and the designer of my web site, and I both believe that the style of one’s website is an extension of oneself and one’s personality. At one point he said he wished he had things that I touched for work. I responded by scanning different tools and items I used in my job, including a used paintbrush, a hammer, some buttons, and a tiny pair of my grandmother’s scissors. The background textures came from some of my photographs and notes I made to speak from at a Production Design class. I am able to keep my resume as a PDF on my site, as well as my contact information. I don’t know how many jobs I’ve been awarded based on my website, but I know it’s gotten me in more doors than I would have gotten through with out it. When a client asks if I can send them a resume I’m able to tell them they can go immediately to my web site, rather than wait for me to get back to my computer to email them. Because I work on so many different kinds of projects, my web site highlights my creative flexibility; one assignment may resonate with a client over another.”

Thomas Walsh Webpages are becoming the marketing norm in our digital world today. In order to reach many people with different levels of computer skills it is best to keep things simple, keeping color schemes and templates consistent. Websites need to be maintained and up to date so having a template makes that process much less time consuming. Templates let you just plug in content rather than starting from scratch each time. In addition, the layout and links must be easy to follow so the viewer can easily access the files in display and get the information needed.

“For the “rare birds” in Set Design who create real as well as Virtual Scenery, an online portfolio works very well. A small, relatively simple, 5-6 page website that shows images from the designers completed projects, as well as media clips, is easy to set up, is readily accessible to most Internet users, and will probably cost less than $200 per year to maintain,” says Emmy Award winner Ann Cudworth. “Website domain providers offer templates that allow even the most novice web designer the opportunity to produce a professional looking website that can be viewed by anyone at all times. This is especially useful when the designer is in long distance contact with a producer and wants to discuss their portfolio during a phone chat. All the producer has to do is log on and look at the portfolio. Instant gratification!“

This instant gratification is driving the global nature of a fast growing industry; the ability to promote one’s work with an accessible, digital multi-media platform is a key to success in professional fields such as film, TV and theater. The goal is to be able to reach to a wide audience and potential employers “to create and communicate both an understanding and appreciation for our talents and capabilities.”Digital Tools

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1 Comment
   mell said on October 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Just wanted to suggest ProSite for filmmakers who want to build a professional online portfolio in a short amount of time.

You can create a fully customizable design, and it has unlimited hosting, unlimited projects, and no programming required. Some top examples at http://prosite.com/home/examples

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