The long and short of why a few clicks will make all the difference

By Chandler Atton
Posted November 14, 2023

Put yourself in the shoes of an agency producer for a moment – and if you are one, get excited – we’re about to make your lives easier too.

The boards made their rounds, the job’s up for the taking and now it’s your duty to sift through everyone in the running. Only one company will win the job. So you’d better make your choices count.

One problem: You’ve received over 100 reels.

Let’s be real. No agency producer is feasibly going to watch all of these. But as the adage goes, first impressions count! So with that in mind, what’s the best way to ensure that prospects will watch your work?

With gripping thumbnails.

We heard it at our Agency Heads of Production roundtable just a few days ago. Oftentimes, a weak thumbnail could mean that the best spot on the reel gets skipped. Doubly so if it’s misleading. A live action thumbnail on display for a tabletop job? Forget it.

Agency producers are looking for one thing when screening your reel: What they want. If you’re not delivering, then you’re wasting both their time and your own. So, how can you craft captivating thumbnails?

Stick to these 3 principles and see how your reel activity changes:

1: Pick a great shot.

This one’s a no brainer, but it needs saying. No agency producer wants to click on a slate or a blurry nothingburger of an image. Find a shot with crisp lighting, a clear focus – something attention grabbing! If you don’t care when you see it, the person screening your work certainly doesn’t either.

2: Pick the RIGHT shot.

A bit more esoteric. Just because you have an incredible shot doesn’t mean it’s the one that fits the brief. Choose a thumbnail that fits the description of what the agency wants. EVEN IF THAT MEANS NOT PICKING THE BEST SHOT. Your best work isn’t always your best work. If the most gripping thumbnail is irrelevant to the job, then it’s probably going to be overlooked anyway.

3: Pay attention to details.

Focus on the lighting, coloring and overall composition of your thumbnails within a reel. Do they tell a story? Are they all fulfilling a similar purpose? Is everything cohesive? If none of these boxes are checked, then you might need to go back and be a little artsier. A reel isn’t just a compilation of your work. It’s a presentation. Put the same pride you do into the reel making process as you do the work itself.

We think BB Rivero of Cortez Bros. says this one best, “If I’m not showing a cohesive look at what the director can do that matches what the job at hand is, then it’s harder to sell.”

Now you’re all caught up to speed on thumbnails – you’re curating captivating stills for all your reels and you’re crafting more gripping presentations all around – but there’s one problem. You’ve got multiple reels using the same spots for different purposes. Sure, you can snap a great shot for one reel, but what about the others?

Introducing the latest Simian update: Opposable Thumbs.

Available to all Simian users now – the ability to save multiple thumbnails to a spot. It works just the same as thumbnail capture always has.

Check out this brief summary of the feature to get ready using it yourself:




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