The latest craze in film fundraising is the development of mood reels. The mood reel consists of clips from other movies cut into a sequence that would be reminiscent of the feelings to be generated in the future film. By using similar music, production teams hope to set the tone and create an emotional atmosphere to pitch potential investors.
The mood reel is not too different from a living reel, except for the use of someone else’s work. Any form of previsualization helps to gain the attention of investors and clarify the type of film being made. Similar to animatics, a rough animated version of the storyboard, the mood reel is designed to introduce a logical decision maker into the world of the picture.
Mood reels are typically 2-5 minutes in length and intangibly present an emotional background or give the audience a feeling about the story. These compilation pieces can also give a sense of the types of shots, timing and effects that will be used throughout the film.
The drawback to a mood reel resides with the investor’s ability to separate the mood and his emotions from the short and translate it into the possibilities for the feature film. This is a similar problem to having an investor read a script without knowing how to properly read scripts – Causing them to miss the subtext and demand more overt content.
Mood reel or not, the most important element for an investor is whether or not he can trust the filmmaker’s artistic choices in transferring the story from the page to the screen. The filmmaker either knows his film inside and out and can communicate it, or he can’t. This requires the filmmaker to be a good verbal communicator and not just a visual communicator.
The reason behind the continual search for a visual tool like the mood reel is because the average investor prejudges the story. The more niche the film’s distribution, the greater the prejudgment.
Walt Disney was the first to experiment with storyboards, artistic renderings and the like in order to sway bankers. There is an entire warehouse of composites created by Disney artists experimenting with concepts, as they attempted to reduce Walt’s ideas to paper or canvas. While most of the images are symbolic or give a feel for the concept, they have in their own right become valuable works of art.
The skills needed to make a great feature film are very different than making a great mood reel, trailer, short, or other promotional piece. Yet, investors continue to prejudge a filmmakers feature ability based on these preliminary tools, so its not surprising that filmmakers have shifted to using a mood reel – Taking advantage of great art that already exists.