How To Create A Sizzle Reel – By Hal Weiner

Remember when you were in grade school and the teacher assigned you a book report? For me, that was a nightmare, especially since I so often “forgot” to read the book. Now, imagine how much more daunting that task would be if the book had yet to be written! That’s what it’s like to create a sizzle reel.

As background, a sizzle reel is usually a three- to five-minute long piece intended to excite potential audiences or funders about a future feature film, TV show, or documentary. In this particular case, we were tasked with creating this type of teaser for Dispatches From The Gulf – 2, which is a sequel to our Emmy® Award-winning documentary that spotlighted scientists trying to understand and ease the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The new documentary will essentially pick up close to where the previous film left off, now seven years after the spill. Still, we knew from the beginning that making a sizzle reel would not be an easy task. After all, we had spent many months filming more than 100 hours of footage, featuring close encounters with dolphins, sharks, and whales, as well as many amazing laboratory experiments. Our filming took us to all of the Gulf Coast states, as well as Mexico, Norway, and Germany. We also filmed more than 75 interviews and covered half a dozen cruises. We had a ton of footage through which to sift.

I won’t bore you with the gory details, but it took our team nearly a month to produce the SIZZLE REEL, so please do take a look.

Did we whet your appetite or do you give us a rotten tomato? Send me your comments at I promise to write back.

Hal Weiner
Dispatches From The Gulf – 2