It depends on who’s looking at it. There are many types of people who will look at your reel. I will address 3 types: The first type is the person who knows what constitutes talent in your classification. This person will be looking at your talent & skill. If it’s there, then it may or may not matter if you have recognizable talent/projects on your reel.
The second type doesn’t know the nuances of what you do (ex: a writer* looking at a DP’s reel). This person is looking for recognizable talent/projects, something that appeals to his/her sensibilities, and his/her medium.
The third type is looking for “his/her movie” on your reel. In other words, if his/her movie takes place in the interior of a restaurant and you’re reel is comprised of a montage of interiors in a bedroom, a car dealership, a bathroom, a classroom, and a gym locker room, he/she will wonder, “Yes, but can you do a restaurant?” What are you gonna do? I know a 5-time Oscar nominee that encountered this, which leads me to…
You can’t please everybody so:
1. Put recognizable talent/projects up front
2. Get other qualified people’s feedback, because sometimes your opinion is biased
3. Research your competition’s reels so that the length and style of your reel is current
*disclaimer: there are many writers who have a great knowledge of lighting
If you have a question, put it in the comment section.
To your success!