The issue of asset use is a frequent topic in the academic environment. In order to build a competitive portfolio, especially if you are an online-only candidate, you'll need nearly 90 seconds of unique collaborative shot material to get your first line production job.
You can't do that with canned exercise material, the same material (especially online) that hundreds of other candidates have already used in their reels.
When can you use your collaborative footage? Here are some guidelines:
1. Sign an NDA
If you are working on a project that has involved another department, namely Motion Pictures and Television, or on an outside project (independent filmmaker) you'll need to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) that explicitly prohibits a release of their materials in any form before express permission.
Why is this important in Academia?
If the Director wants to enter his or her film in an exclusive festival, that festival typically prohibits the public viewing of the material in any way BEFORE the festival screening.
Why is this important to an Independent Filmmaker?
In order to control publicity in advance of a film's release, the Producers of an indy film NEVER want their material released in a manner that is not consistent with their marketing plan.
Why is it important that you follow these rules?
If you don't, there is a likelihood that future filmmakers will avoid working with you, your program, and/or your school. Trust is the MOST important aspect of our professional creative relationships. Without the independent filmmaker and/or film student, the visual effects candidate will have little unique material with which to use in his or her portfolio.
2. After DVD release
If you've worked on a project at a professional house, you won't have access to that material until the film it appears in is released on DVD. No exceptions.
3. By Permission
If you can obtain permission from the show's Executive Producer and/or Director, you might be able to include it in your demo reel. Consider that demo reels appear on the web today, as DVD demo reels are a thing of the past. Once you obtain permission for use, that material has a high likelihood of showing up on the web.
Please be responsible. Your desire to get good material in your reel is completely understood. We've all been in your position. Keep the trust. Don't use materials unless you've been granted specific access. If you are in doubt, ask.
If you play by the rules, everyone wins.