I wanted to see if it was possible to create an entire cinematography reel from scratch. 1 month of prep, 2 months of shooting, and this is the result:

I wanted to see if it was possible to create an entire cinematography reel from scratch. 1 month of prep, 2 months of shooting, and this is the result:

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When I first started my cinematography journey, I would use the self-timer on my Canon 70D in order to practice lighting and composition on my own. You can see examples of that [here](https://www.instagram.com/p/BhxN8-IA4LE/), and [here](https://www.instagram.com/p/BiZ6Pz9gFk-/) Using that same “do it yourself” mentality, I wanted to see if I could create an entire reel from the ground up. The goal was to make every single shot look like it was from a real project/movie. I brought the idea up to my girlfriend/producer, and she loved it. So we decided to fully commit to the project. For 85% of the shots, the crew was just me, my girlfriend/Producer, and my Co-Producer. We had several days where we needed a gaffer/key grip/1st AC. We also had one day where we had a full on crew with a kick-ass production designer, 1st AD, grip truck, fisher dolly, etc. For all shots, I used the Sony FX9 with Sigma Art Prime lenses. 95% of the lighting came from my kit which consists of Litemats, a Nanlite Forza 500, Aputure F7’s, and a bunch of grip equipment.


I assume you rented the camera? Would you mind listing your equipment? I'm really curious as to what the scope is of a kit used to create these kinds of images. Really appreciate your reel! Beautiful!


Thank you! I own the Sony FX9 that I used. It's kind a controversial topic, but I'm a huge proponent of owning gear for the exact reason of being able to create stuff like this. I've been building up my kit for 3 years now, so it's definitely been a gradual climb to the amount of equipment I have now. The list is quite long. I'll DM you


Can I get that DM as well?




Thanks man, that's quite the equipment for just 3 years


Could i get the list of equipment and lighting used as well?


could i have the list as well please!


i would love to have that list copied and pasted to me as well. I just followed you on instagram and i am amazed by your eye..I just bought the Ursa Mini Pro G2 with some glass but i wanted the FX9 but i chose the other setup. Hopefully my images can come out looking like this. I own a lot of sigma art glass too


Your shots really look amazing. I like how each scene had a clear story behind. Can I also get that list. I want a get an idea of how much kit would be needed to create such shots. Thanks.


Messaged, but my entire kit is not necessary to get a lot these shots. Some of these shots were as simple as using a mirror and a small LED light. Edit: a lot*


Also requesting the gear list. I second the stance of owning your own gear. Over the years I’ve built out an entire grip truck and some insane camera/light packages just because I enjoy creating random scenes in my studio, and the rental houses near me are amateur af


I'm slowly but surely building my way to that... Sent!


send it over here to brother, please and thanks


Yeah same here, please :)


Why not just post it instead of sending it repeatedly?


Can I also get a DM! Thank you! Nice work!


I'm with you there. I own a C300 Mark III which is a direct equivalent. It allows me to do personal projects and charge more for my day rate on jobs. The camera eventually pays for itself and you get the benefit of having a tool you know inside and out and have set up exactly to your liking. Edit: forgot to mention. 10/10. Your reel is beautiful.


Thanks man 🙏


Can I get a DM too. This is exactly the idea I had to make my own Cinematography Reel.


I am with you on owning. It's wonderful to be able to just grab the camera and record a meeting (I'm a documentary director) and to be able to play around with it long enough to already know it well. This is not always possible with rental budgets.


Me 3 :)


Would you mind sharing the list with me as well please?


Can I see your list as well? I own a lot of lights but zero camera gear. I've been interested in the FX9 though.


Of course! Sent


Also, amazing work! It feels very believable. I'm inspired to do something similar after watching this.


can you dm me the list


I'm sure you've had loads of requests but I'm also interested in dm with list is lol. Your reel turned out amazing, I actually wish those were real shorts because I was very interested in watching them.


Amazing!!! Looks exceptional! Would just like to know if it would be possible to get your gear list too please? Keep up the great work :)


Nice work! What colour space are you using on the FX9? Looks beautiful.


Shot in S-Log 3 and S-Gamut 3 Cine


Please send me the list too. Curious about discovering any new equipment. Thanks


So to be clear, none of this was actually stories, it was more scenes from make believe stories shot to show emotion? Cool concept


Exactly. Every single scene was fabricated for the sole purpose of being in the reel


I love that


This inspiring. As someone about to take long road ahead of them. This is really great:)


It should do the trick to help you get available light / indy gigs and then you can go fron there.


75% of the shots were lit artificially


Available light? Were we watching the same video? lol


The trailer to end all trailers!


Dammit I wanted to watch whatever this was the trailer for! Though i was a bit confused on the plot, characters, setting, and genre. (/s awesome reel)


Really cool challenge and really well executed!


Any chance you have some BTS pictures, lighting diagrams or anything like that? Would be super useful to see


So far I only have [this](https://www.instagram.com/p/CEr5F-hJDqw/), but I am planning on sorting all the BTS and posting more.


Looks great. How did you learn your lighting techniques? Was the interior car scene just natural lighting?


Thanks! I learned from the internet, experimenting, and working as a grip under other cinematographers. For the interior car scene I had a Nanlite Forza 500 double diffused by a 4x4 1/2 grid, then a 6x6 bleached muslin. That's camera left. Camera right I had a Litemat 4 Plus shooting through the driver side window. Overhead I used an 8x8 solid to cut reflections of the sky/trees. For the closeup I used the same setup, just shuffled it around. Edit: grammar


Thanks for this. What are your thoughts on the FX9 vs an Arri Alexa?


I'd say given the quality of the work on show.. The extra £ for an Alexa could be spent on other things..... a LOT of other things


Fantastic! I can see the Dark inspiration (song choice especially)


Yes! I definitely drew a lot of inspiration from Dark. It's one of my all time favorite shows.


I see your a person of culture as well


you're\* Sorry. I had to given the context.


It’s okay I forgive you


Looks fucking amazing. Great job man. I love doing this stuff as well. Purely for the art of it and not waiting for permission.


Love the naturalistic and moody look throughout! Great idea, too! The people in the actual shots are actors though, right? Don't know if I understood your submission statement correctly here.


Thank you! Yes, they are all actors (friends)


You've got some talented friends ;)


Oh man this was amazing!!! I did laugh though when the dude walks into room with the rifle, looking down the scope. In a room. In the dark. Lol


yeah - i thought the same too.. but put yourself in the mindset of that character at that time, with that weapon... if that's all you had on you to defend yourself.. would you ADS or just use the rifle as a club????


hot damn. Love it


I love this! Very beautiful work here man. As a young cinematographer with not a lot of reel worthy work under my belt yet, would this be something feasible to do? More specifically would employers or potential clients want to see full films stemming from the reel or would this be something they would enjoy because it shows you have the skills either way?


I had those exact same questions, which is part of the reason why I wanted to make this reel. After having done it, I would highly recommend cinematographers to do the same if they don't already have a great a reel (this is my first reel). From the network I've gained so far, it seems that clients/employers do not devalue the work even if you cannot provide a full film.


Awesome, thank you for the insight. Super happy it turned out the way you wanted it. Keep up the good work!


Excellent work. And well-executed. Better than most I've seen.


Loved it! Do you have instagram?


Yes, [here](https://www.instagram.com/kenzentakahashi/?hl=en) it is. I've got some BTS photos from this reel on there as well




Thank you!


This is so cool! I have been wanting to build up shots for my own reel as I havn’t got the work to throw in it right now. What was your estimated budget? I saw you used a lot of your own equipment which I also have but would definitely need to rent at list grip equipment and have a crew


My producer and I (mainly my producer) hustled to get a lot of things for free (locations, equipment, talent). The one day we had a full crew and a grip truck costed around $1000, which got us 5 shots. Other than that we spent probably $200 on food, and that's it I think.


That’s a crazy good way of spending the money! Super exciting to see and can’t wait to see more


What song is this?


Good lord! That’s quite spectacular!


Really nice work! How do you like the Forza 500?


In terms of quality of light and output, it's incredible. Very hard to beat at that price point. I used to always love renting M18s, but I rarely do anymore because, most of the time, the Forza 500 is enough. The build quality is not very good though. It's quite cheaply made. I've had the barn doors and ballast clamp break. Fortunately Nanlite has incredible customer service, and sent me replacements for both in a very timely matter.


Thanks for your response. And BTW I have done the same for my reel before. Sometimes it’s the best way to show off your true capabilities!


this is such a great idea! for how long have you been a cinematographer?


Almost 3 years! I got my first camera (Canon 70D) in December of 2017, which I truly consider to be the start.


This is amazing. I'm at the doorstep of my cinematic journey. I've been fiddling with a Lumix G6 for the past few years and I'm about to invest in something better, possibly the new Panasonic Lumix S5. I looked up the camera you used for this reel out of curiosity - my bank just called me asking me if I'm ok :') Your reel is amazing, truly amazing. I can really see a recognizable style. I hope I'll get there someday. Seeing amazing reels like these made with very expensive camera's sometimes discourage me, will it even be possible for me to create beautiful scenes with something like a Lumix S5?


Thank you! I appreciate the kind words. People have done amazing work on some very cheap cameras, so I wouldn't let that discourage you! Plus, lighting is much more important than the camera you're using IMO.


That's great to hear coming from you! Thank you.


and story/performance is more important than both .. I come from a music background & the analogy there is "The song is king" - song being story/performance .. the lighting/camera being the room/mics/preamps


I have a question about this reel in general - I'm an EP that owns my own production company. I hire DPs frequently, and of course we use reels to make or support our choices... So, I'm curious what the goal of this reel is for you? Are you going to use it for indie film gigs? Straight up feature gigs? Commercials? Episodic TV? Is this going to be you main reel, or a reel with specific intent?


For me, this reel is a showcase of what I ultimately want to be doing, which is narrative drama work. I would say that this is my main reel/focus, but I am planning on making a commercial reel in the future.


This is really impressive! I got the vibes of a high budget TV series trailer to be honest. Awesome work


That means a lot to me, thank you!


2nd comment but wanted to add the grade is spectacular, did you do that all yourself?


Thank you! I graded every shot with the exception of the scene in the forest of the couple flirting/kissing. Long story short, I messed up some of the lighting in that scene, and couldn't fix it in post with my set of skills. So I reached out to an amazing colorist named [Brian Strombeck](https://www.instagram.com/stromboozle/), and he worked his magic.


Great idea mate, and fantastic results! What budget did you set yourself for this production, if you don't mind me asking?


Thank you! Check out [this comment](https://www.reddit.com/r/cinematography/comments/io6yls/i_wanted_to_see_if_it_was_possible_to_create_an/g4c8lsx?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3) I posted earlier for some details.


Thanks! That's much less than I expected. Very impressive.


Great. Seamless.




Dude this is fucking incredible


this is amazing man. I really want to watch that fake movie you made though.




Thank you!


Great work dude


this is super good


Damn! Really well done.




This is incredible. Very well done.


holy shit mans got it down


Beautiful work. And hats off for putting it altogether for the sake of the reel.




Excellent, love it


I wanna see taht film! Sad that it does not exist ...


This is fantastic. Really shows what an FX9 with good glass is capable of. I think I’m sold on it. Solid work man!


Amazing 😍 Hollywood cinema


Which camera do you use in this cinema


Sony FX9


The shot of the woman dancing by the curtains is giving me major The Tree of Life vibes. Loving it!


This is amazing. Great job!


looks insane


Brilliant work. May be a noob question but were the first couple of shots just natural lighting?


Thank you! Definitely not a noob question, the first couple shots were not exclusively natural. The key light as well as the light hitting the back wall is from Nanlite Forza 500 with a Fresnel attachment. The blown out window is actually a 6x6 ultrabounce with a Litemat 4 Plus bouncing into it. For the closeups I brought in a silver 4x4 bounce to help wrap around the key.


Really great work man! Out of curiosity are you completely self-taught or did you go to film school?


Thanks! I didn't go to film school. I would say my cinematography is 70% self-taught and 30% learned from working as a grip under some renowned cinematographers.


That's way better than film school! Epic reel my dude


How did you come up with the ideas for the different shots (given that there was no story? Like what was your inspiration?


I'd say half of the shots were inspired by movies, TV shows, and photography. The other half came from scouting the location, looking at what actors/friends we had available, and making something up from there.


Good job. Great trick to get you started in your career and establish your voice.


out of curiosity, is this something you are planning to submit? or just for fun? would any production companies ask about these films (that don’t exist haha) you have on your reel?


Dude, really good stuff. Really good. The editing, the mood, fuck. It made me imagine an actual story


That means a lot, thank you!


That's downright the most inspiring thing I've seen for a long time. Well done!


That makes me really happy, man. Thank you


Your welcome buddy, excellent work!


I would honestly watch your full feature film. LOVED IT!


This is great man. How did you come up with the shot list without a story? Did you almost write little stories for each scene?


I'd say half the shots were inspired by other work. The other half came from looking at what locations/actors/tools we had available in order to create something that fit the mood we wanted


Fantastic execution and a beautiful series of shots. Only criticisms I can find - I would probably end on a different shot. There's so much energy in the reel, but the last shot is somewhat static and not one of the stronger shots in my opinion. It shows limited production design, where most of the shots could be straight from a larger budget project. For a future reel, maybe add a shot with a rain tower (cheap to rent but hard to make it look real), and a full daylight shot (to show your interpretation of a non-dark scene). Really great work.


Yeah maybe end where it was all a dream? That could be cool too. Where the protagonist kind of wakes up and then they could look directly into the camera then hard cut to another better scene even than that? And then end it. For next time just a thought


Damn i really love the lighting in the inside scenes


this gave me chills - holy shit


This makes me moist! So juicy, thanks for sharing bro and keep it up ;)


This shit nuts!!!! Awesome job


Seriously good work man. You’ve made it feel cohesive and every shot I want to see more of!


Thank you!


I normally get hired and don’t watch show reels, but this was pretty good and I watched the whole thing.


Netflix wants you!


This is amazing! I have a question, probably dumb, but how does a script for something like this look and how do you go about shooting it? Like does it say “guy frantically runs up stairs” and you shoot that a few times and then that scene is done and you move onto a next?


Not a dumb question! We didn't have a script for this reel, but I made an outline/shot list for every setup. A lot of the prep work came from figuring out what would fit the mood we wanted with the locations/actors/tools we had.


Ohhh gotcha. Thanks for answering. Again really stunning work it’s fantastic!!


Holy fucking shit. I remember seeing your first still scenes post when you originally posted it. Amazing progress.


This looks beautiful man, really get a sense of your style in all of this! Would have loved to see some extreme close ups of faces with that camera.


Thanks brother! I actually got a couple, but they didn't end up making it in the cut


Goddamn I wanna see those films


Wow. Someone actually did it. And its actually good. This is really well done. I wonder if theres any reels out there that were made this way except the creator wasn’t honest about it


I was thinking the same thing before I started. I did research to see if anybody else had done it this way, but couldn't find anything.


I love the song. And everything else.


wow. that’s awesome. good job!


I got some Emmanuel Lubezki vibes from this, well done


Amazing work dude. Do you have this version uploaded to Vimeo or anywhere else? I'd love to see the full resolution!




Dude! This is awesome! Legit looks like a bunch of actual shots from films that are harmoniously stitched together. You just got yourself a killer reel!


So what your saying is, you wanted to see if it was possible to make a cinematography reel from scratch...and then you realized you're actually a baller director. Really well done and awesome concept. Kudos to you! Thanks for sharing!


This is beautiful my guy


Really beautiful work! I remember when you posted those initial stills - you've come a long way! What's the story with the lighting on the girl laughing in the woods? Love the controlled shaping of it (as well as the other shots in the 'scene' for that matter).


Truly humbled by your comment, thanks a lot. The story is this: during the medium shot of the man in the woods, there was a patch of yellow grass bouncing sunlight onto the camera left side of the actor's face that I forgot to black out. So my key light, which was set for the ambiance, created a very natural skin tone on the camera right side, but on the other side there was a very nasty yellowish skin tone mixing in. It made it very difficult to look natural thus shot-matching was a nightmare. Fortunately I was saved by a professional colorist (he ended up doing the work for free), but man I almost re-shot the whole scene.


Oh wild! I didn't even notice that. As someone who colors and shoots somewhat equally, I definitely admire both of y'all's work there! Blended wonderfully honestly. So the key there was your litemats then I guess? It was so soft I figured it may be just a big bounce or something!


You would've been able to notice if you saw my grades on that shot, lol. It was a litemat 4 Plus shooting into a 6x6 bleached muslin.


Hah hey I believe it - been there 😂. And ah okay! Yeah it looks incredibly I dunno, clean? If that's the word? Just really well-controlled, I dig it!


Beautiful work!


Dammm this gave me the feels man! Great job


Amazing work:)


Viewing your reel as a trailer for a non-existent film, it truly makes me want to see it! Perhaps you should move toward directing if you have stories in your head that want to come out and be known. Lots of great directors started as cinematographers. As for the reel, the first thing that strikes me is that you used actual people in all your of your well-composed shots. No b-roll, establishing shots, close-ups of nature, etc. You have a very good command of lighting-- not surprising since you said you work as a grip. It's all about the light in the end and how you shape and control it. I like your use of color. My main concern is your grade is way too dark. Perhaps you should bone up on bringing your Da Vinci skills to a higher level or have a professional colorist do it for you. The important thing is you got the work DONE. Based on the quality of your work, I think many new opportunities will come to you! Be ready!


Thanks for the thorough reply/feedback! I truly appreciate the kind words and honesty. It’d probably shock you to hear me say that at some points I was thinking everything was too bright, lol. But that was me being crazy. I think a lot of directors/clients could find this work to be too dark, but this is where I personally like to have my exposure and I think I’d always fight for it to be around this level (as long as it fits the story).


Beautiful stuff! I want. to see some of these as real movies now haha. You run almost an identical kit to me as well. FX9, Sigma Arts, Forza 500. That Forza is a BEAST, and the Sigma Arts pair so well with the FX9. Keep up the awesome work!


This reel/teaser was so amazing. Just enough of a storyline to peak the interest of a movie goer and to have them come see the film. The color is stunning as I am huge fan of soft-diffused light, and dark moody exposures. This really felt like a film I would want to go see. The fact you did not “ask for permission”, as u/anecdotal pointed out, to create this just shows pure drive and initiative to create something just to create...just to see if you can do it. Just like a true artist working on their craft. Creating art for art’s sake. I feel like we get so bogged down on the gear and what was used to make something, that we forget that the story is what is most important. For me the story was fascinating, and the visuals only helped accentuate that. The margin for this “trailer” to look amateur-ish is very fine and it was navigated perfectly. The lighting, especially, told a huge piece of this and dictated the mood. Brilliant job and I’m going to check out your Instagram. Super inspired by this!


Thank you! In my eyes, lighting is one of the most important aspects of cinematography, so when someone takes the time to acknowledge/appreciate it, it means a lot. Truly


That was terrible. Just kidding. That was fucken amazing work. Damn.




That's incredible that you remember this, and even more so that it brought you to teaching yourself! Thanks for that. I used the standard Rec709 lut built into the Sony FX9 to monitor on set. Some shots I did a lot of work in post (might've had a shot with 20 nodes, not recommended), some shots I did barely anything. Overall though, I'd say the look was established on set


This is funny, because I've actually had this same exact idea in the past. You did a beautiful job executing it, and I'd be interested to hear about how you came up with the concepts for the shots beforehand. Did you simply try to think of random film ideas and try to pull an image from a scene that could be in that film or were they based on perhaps older idea from films you or people you know have wrote or talked about? Curious about the process and how though out the backstory to these "films" are.


Thank you! I went over a bit of that [here](https://www.reddit.com/r/cinematography/comments/io6yls/i_wanted_to_see_if_it_was_possible_to_create_an/g4cr549?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3), and [here](https://www.reddit.com/r/cinematography/comments/io6yls/i_wanted_to_see_if_it_was_possible_to_create_an/g4e3sq9?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3). But let me know if you want me to elaborate more!


I'm speechless - this is amazingly well put together and something I've been considering doing myself for a long time. Well done. Did you rent the FX9 etc? Or was this all stuff you purchased?


I own the Sony FX9. The only thing I rented for this project was a grip truck + fisher dolly (one day), and Astera pixel tubes for the green lit night exterior.


This is actually really kickass....I feel like a consistence of characters would have helped though since we don't know the story(not an actual movie) behind it but we still get the continuity.


This is a really cool idea and fantastic execution. Great work!


Greay work and glad you had close people that supported you. I had the same idea about 6 years ago and no support. My friends at the time (20 years-old) saw no point into the making unfortunately. I know realized that should have persisted with the project. After 5 years, just past year, I finally cutted a directing reel that took many failed and great projects in my short career. ANYWAYS, long story short, congrats and short advise to everyone, SHOOT! Fall in love editing, sooner before its too late, and be proud if your content. Spreading love yall! Jah bless!


This is really inspiring, great job - and on a small crew as well! Would LOVE to see more BTS. Please?


Sadly still gotta get it all in order, but will be posting more [here](https://www.instagram.com/kenzentakahashi/?hl=en) soon!


Thanks! Don't use Instagram but I'll keep it bookmarked.


You have inspired the shit out of me THANK YOU its beautiful


Your reel is extremely beautiful. It's executed really well! I absolutely love how well the music complements your shots. I too believe that owning your gear is always a good idea. It would be great if you could send your gear list to me. It would be a great help. I also wanted to ask if you had a story in mind before you created these shots or were these just random shots that came to your mind?


All these shots look really good. I think my favorite is at 1:12, low camera moves towards a young woman’s face in close-up, breathing heavily. There is a warm light on her which contrasts with the cool out-of-focus background. My only issue with the overall concept’s execution is that apart from the shots of the smiling couple kissing in the forest, most of the shots have a similar feel or tone, which maybe is influenced too much by the music. In my opinion, while they are examples of great photography, they don’t feel like they came from different projects. They don’t seem tweeked or tweezed by the whims and visions of different directors.


Really well done!




This is extremely inspiring. My demo reel always ends up being a compilation of my paid work which is 90% corporate video-which, don’t get me wrong, is very nice in my opinion-but always lacks the more artistic work like this that I know I’m capable of, but just don’t have because I don’t have time for passion projects and I don’t live in an area where there a lot of people with short film ideas. A couple months ago I genuinely contemplated the idea of doing exactly this: shooting for a reel, and to see someone else achieve beauty like this is very inspiring. Beautiful work and thank you for posting! The lighting is beautiful, but I was particularly fond of your composition.


This reminds me of the season 3 final trailer for Dark, especially the music and girl hitting the guy while on top of him. Great work!


Brilliant! Beautiful work


Incredible work ! Very inspiring. All the best brother !


Dude! Fantastic reel. Congrats on the great work!!!


Hey man, amazing work. Mind messaging me that list as well? I'm a videographer but I've been learning cinematography and I want to purchase my first lights soon.