Recap: It’s Getting Hot in Here – Sizzle Reels!

It’s Getting Hot in Here: Sizzle Reels!
By Justine Sutton

On Wednesday, November 4th, AWC-SB members and guests met via Zoom for the monthly event that always presents valuable information as well as networking and camaraderie. While doing our best to suspend our collective breath-holding over election results (though updates were posted in the chat from time to time), we came together for How to Create a Sizzle Reel that Really Sizzles.

After a warm welcome from AWC-SB President, Lisa Osborn, Carolyn Jabs, Membership Chair, shared some impressive statistics from the October Membership Drive.

A new feature, AWC-SB Member Spotlight, focused on Dale Griffiths Stamos. Dale is a writer and filmmaker who was just presented the Bill Paxton Award by the Ojai Film Festival.

YouTube Influencer, Rebecca Brand, started out by sharing that sizzle reels historically have been used in the film and tv industries, and have generally consisted of about two minutes of montage, like a preview. However, these short videos are now being used to promote much more. You can find Rebecca Brand’s YouTube channel here. 

AWC-SB Board Member Erica Schweitzer, of TVSB, talked about the growing usage of sizzle reels–videos, generally 60 second or less, created to showcase work, call people to action, raise awareness, or to promote a product/event. She also shared strategies for using them on various social media. For example, a shorter version of your reel can be posted to Instagram, with a link to the full-length version on Facebook or YouTube.

As we all know, video is much more dynamic than text or even photos, leaving a vivid impression in a short amount of time.

Key qualities of a sizzle reel:
Short & succinct
Visually appealing
Emotionally engaging
Start with a hook
End with a call to action

Erica discussed the importance of considering what format best relays your message–text/music montage, voice over video, or interview/testimonial.

She also shared ideas for creating sizzle reels with the tools you already have: your smartphone, iPad, or camera.

There are free or affordable platforms available for editing and for creating graphics:

Vimeo Create ($20/month)
Adobe Spark ($9/month)
iMovie (Free for Windows and Mac)
Canva (Free)

And Erica also shared some general tips for filming:

Record all your audio with earbuds in one quiet, distraction free place
Aim for vivid colors, dynamic action, smooth camera movements
Look for copyright free music to reduce cost or risk of copyright strike–Youtube Music Library

As so many AWC-SB members are writers, there was also lively interest in the trend of creating book trailers.

I don’t think anyone was distracted by the election as the meeting ended with a sweet singalong. AWC-SB Secretary, Lisa Danhi, also a singer/songwriter, brought out her ukulele and sang an original birthday song to Carolyn as we all joined in (muted of course) on the chorus, heads happily bobbing along in Brady Bunch-style squares.

Hurray for community and kindness to help us through the tense and trying times. You could say we ended not with a sizzle, but with a glow.

Justine Sutton graduated from UCSB and has adopted Santa Barbara as her hometown. She’s a freelance writer, certified in Weddings and Funerals as a Life-Cycle Celebrant® and is currently training as a voice actor.

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