View Full Version : Chris Thurman - Rough Draft Demo Reel Lines [CRITIQUES, BRING THEM]
04-10-2012, 04:49 AM
Hello everyone. So...I know I already have a recent-ish demo reel. But I don't feel it represents me well enough, so I'm going to try hard on this one until I can get a professionally produced reel. I wrote the lines and voiced them in the same night, everythings a little rough. But that's the point.
So here's a link to the voices I have so far:
So yes, everyone feel free to give constructive criticism, and suggest changes or even additions to anyone who knows my range. I promise this won't result in drama, like a lot of critique-y stuff can haha. So yeah, can't wait to hear what people have to say!
04-11-2012, 01:54 AM
Bump. Critiques, anyone? :)
04-11-2012, 02:47 AM
It was kinda half and half; a couple of the voices I was truly impressed by, and others were a little disappointing. I feel like the first one could've worked, but its placement at the beginning threw me off. I'd put something a bit more solid up front, something that proves you can act and personifies your voice. The second voice didn't feel like a complete performance; for example, the "yeah, yeah, yeah" didn't sound exasperated or annoyed to me. Although it's a casual line I still wanted more out of it, like the pompous attitude I started to hear near the end. Goodness knows I need to improve this myself-- when I read a line, I try to imagine what each one means. "Yeah, yeah, yeah" is said because, presumably, the last person who spoke mentioned something about the guy (you) not being as cool as he thought, or maybe something about the girl. Whatever it is, he just wants to talk about himself, so his first utterance is dismissive and probably somewhat annoyed. From then on I wanted pure arrogance, which would've been there if you slowed down and made it more deliberate. Maybe not soap-opera-dramatic, but just enough to sound like the kind of story you could tell at a bar. The ending showed the most energy, but I still wanted more character. The next one was good-- I can imagine a director might want it that way, but personally I might've tried asking you to sound more distracted during the first couple of lines so the "Yes!" makes it sound like he really comes to life with accomplishment. Maybe you could just add more of a pause there so the "and" can be a little more interesting (anxiety? expectancy? conceit?). I was taken by surprise by the next one, though, probably because it was so different from all the voices before it. I'm not so familiar with that kind of voice/character so I don't think I can comment; from a writer's point of view, the line seemed a bit awkward for someone to say without sounding silly. The next one sounded pretty fake around "dream house", like you're meaning for the character to hold back (unless that's unintended). I actually don't know what the next accent is so I won't comment on it. The last voice was another one that gave me mixed feelings; I like the way it ended with a different vocal quality but the rest of the line sounded like it was read. Why is he yelling? I assumed it was because he's addressing a crowd, but then they wouldn't be able to hear him when he gets quiet. I also wanted to hear a bit more malice; I wanna be afraid of this guy! He sounds more like a bearer of bad news than a villain.
I've said a lot of negative things, but it's only because you didn't make the obvious mistakes: no puffs, the voices and characters are all fairly different, and I sense that you can act. I also enjoyed the contrastive elements that helped give the characters depth. However, I wanted to hear more thought behind the lines. I want to hear the character's feelings and thoughts through your voice, even if the line doesn't say them explicitly. If I asked for more of something, it's only because I heard enough of something to notice it could've been adjusted (and what sounds good to me might be crap to someone else, so take it as you see fit-- if I say I wanted more slur to make it sound drunk, you might actually want to enunciate more to give a more regal air). All in all, I wasn't too impressed with the reel itself, but it does show me that you're capable of making something much better and that you're well on your way to getting yourself at an experienced level.
04-11-2012, 03:07 AM
Thank you Monotori! That helped a lot. Holding out for more critiques and maybe changes/additions, but I'll put these in notes somewhere.
Keep in mind, this wasn't actually intended to be in any specific order. I literally just wrote the lines and then performed them and stuck it all together. So it's merely a bunch of separate performances. Not trying to defend myself by ANY means haha, just simply pointing it out, so it can be clear that it's not a reel yet. But thank you so much again.
04-11-2012, 05:41 AM
A major issue I have with what you've already put together can be summed up by the word 'neutrality'. The first three lines alone all carry the same casualness to them. There aren't any dynamics, nothing much in the way of levels, etc. And if the listener isn't sold after the first three lines, they're going to tune out: many people have even shorter attention spans than that. I'm just not getting a good grasp of the situations they're in, or why they're saying what they're saying. Every good character (and remember, that's what you're selling here: characters, not voices) needs to be responding to a situation, and I feel like maybe that part of the process got left out. You've given them all basic scenarios: accepted into a club, talking to a friend, and hacking into a computer. But what else is going on in those scenes? The term "raise the stakes" comes to mind, here. What else can the character be responding to in these situations? If these characters all respond to very different situations, that'll automatically eliminate the neutrality of the demo reel. I'll try to go through these one by one and point out ways they could've been improved by giving you a more complex situation to use for when you retry these lines.
Line 1 - It's immediately obvious he's a nerd, yes. He's been accepted into a club, yes. But what else is there? There has to be more to it than that, right? What does his inauguration into the club mean to him? Perhaps the club leader feels he's worthy of joining the club, but the other members don't approve of him, and they've made it known to him for months, constantly putting him down in the meantime. Now that the club leader has finally given him the green light to join, he wants to rub it in their faces. Imagine that he's walking into the room with a swagger and a smirk on his face. "Hello, friends..." he says sarcastically, looking over at the scowling members who've been making fun of him for all those months. He saunters over to them, aiming to rub his new membership in their faces. "I would like to announce that I am an official member of the fan club..." he says proudly, placing emphasis on the fact that he is now a full fledged member despite their disapproval of him. The whole sentence is spoken with fierce pride, and with complete confidence because he feels he deserves this, and if they don't, they'll learn to feel that he deserves it. You don't even have to use that exact context...but the more you put into the scenario, the more you'll have to work with acting wise. I'll continue...
Line 2 - It felt like there was a bit more to this line than the previous one, but again, I didn't feel like you fully expanded upon the scenario. Is he just talking to a friend, or is he bragging about his accomplishment to a whole group of his jealous peers? Was this the hottest girl in school, or somebody he wasn't especially impressed with? Is he the unpopular guy who landed a dream date with the coveted head cheerleader, or is he the captain of the football team who had interest in a moderately attractive art student, and he's now trying to talk up his achievement to his jock buddies as if it's a big deal? There are a lot of different ways you could've taken this one, and really, any of them could've worked. Sometimes a casual line can go a long way in a reel, if portraying that kind of character is a strength of yours, and I sense that it is. This one was almost there, but not quite: just expand on the scenario a bit to raise the stakes.
Line 3 - Right now, it just sounds like your average hacker worming his way into the school files. It doesn't sound like it's particularly urgent to him, and I'd like a sense of urgency out of this line. So, here's a specific scenario for you to try: Imagine he's the technical officer of a small crew of rebel fighters who have crash-landed near an enemy base. Their ship is totaled; the only chance they have of getting out okay is to hijack an enemy ship and fly the hell outta there. They've managed to sneak into the enemy base, but they've been spotted. Against all odds, they were able to locate the hangar, and enter one of the enemy ships. But it turns out the ship's computer is encrypted, and the enemy is hot on their heels. You can hear blazing gunfire outside, and it sounds like they're trying to break down the ship's entry bay door with a battering ram. Now it's all up to you: you have to hack the ship's computer in order to access its controls, fire through the hangar gate, and fly you and the rest of your crew home. You're almost there...you just have to get past one more security code! "Alright...let's do some encryption on this passcode..." you say nervously, your entire body tense. Your heart is pounding in your chest; another loud THUD can be heard from outside as the battering ram slams against the ship. "Bypass the fire wall..." you say with rising excitement as you work your magic. "Aaaand..." you begin with anticipation, and then finally the ship's controls are activated. "YES! WE'RE IN!" you practically leap for joy. Now you can access the ship's controls and get out of there. That's probably one of the more complex situations I'll give you, but it's with good reason. Now you'll have something to visualize when you try this line again, and hopefully it'll give you the right incentive to infuse some urgency into the performance.
Line 4 - I think the idea behind this line is that this is a thug/murderer/etc toying with a potential victim, by first making a joke out of the situation, and then turning it deadly serious by threatening their life. But I'm not sure: the line isn't honestly too well written, and the acting isn't strong enough one way or the other to convince me of any particular motive. I feel like this is perhaps the most motiveless line thus far. For a potential re-write, I might suggest something like, "I'm feeling merciful, so I'll be courteous and give you a choice...A knife? Or the pavement... *laughter*" And if you take that route, here's a scenario for you. You have a hopeless victim in front of you, cowering in a corner. It's all very pathetic, so you won't just impulsively take their life. You're going to play with them first. The first half of the line should be playful, but have an underlying menace. You want to lull them into what they think is a false sense of security. As you say the words, "give you a choice", you want them to be hopeful that maybe one of those choices is that they get to live. Then, I want you to capitalize on that menace for "A knife? Or the pavement..." . You're not going to let them live: you're only presenting them with two horrible ways to die. You want them to be scared into a sobbing state, which will be funny for this character, thus inciting him to laugh at his whimpering victim before he takes their life.
Line 5 - This one seemed entirely devoid of a motive. I didn't sense that anything about this was at all important to your character. What does the dream house mean to him? Who's he talking to? Here's another hypothetical situation: this man's wife is dying of cancer. They'd always talked about building their dream house, but hadn't gotten a chance to up until now. Being a romantic at heart, this man wanted to make his wife truly happy just once before she died. He spent a great deal of money getting this house built in a very short amount of time, but he's kept it a secret from her so he can surprise her with it. The house was finally finished, and that morning, he told her that he was going to take her somewhere special. They're both in the car, but got stuck behind a frustrating amount of traffic. Feeling like his plan was ruined, this made him very upset and he quite nearly lost his cool; but finally he got through the traffic, and now the road ahead is clear, and they're only a few miles from the house. "Looks like it's smooth sailing from here..." he says, letting out a sigh of relief that betrays his previous exasperation. He turns to face her, smiling warmly. "Just a few more miles, and we'll be at your dream house," he then says, letting the cat out of the bag. There should be a hint of sadness in his voice the entire time, because this man's wife is not long for this world, but he is happy that he can give her one true moment of joy in only a few more moments.
By now, I think you're getting the idea for what kind of stakes you ought to lay down for each line. I've already given you a massive wall of text to read through, so I'll try to wrap things up here. You had five lines here that previously, were samey and not very dynamic because the situations didn't incite enough distinct emotion from your character performances. I've given you five hypothetical situations that heavily raise the stakes of each line, all of them different from each other so that you'll be able to give more distinctive performances for each line. Hell, you don't even have to use any of the situations I've just laid out: make up your own, by all means! But remember: the more complex of a scenario you envision for your character when you perform the line, the more complex your acting will be. Figure out what the character wants when they're saying the line, and find a way to make it real for both you and the audience.
I hope this helps you.
04-11-2012, 08:30 PM
Apatheria is a king among men. Also, this should be evident, but when Apa talks about raising the stakes, don't be confused and subsequently make the situation massive and absurdly crucial. Scene goal really only needs to be important to the main character, so as long as you can make the audience believe that the situation is very, very important to the character, you shouldn't need to put the universe at stake. Just a disclaimer of sorts.
04-11-2012, 08:47 PM
Haha yeah I figured. And yes, Apa is amazing and I thank him for the very helpful advice. Thanks Boss :D
04-14-2012, 10:17 PM
Could you try to act as a happy 10 year old boy?
04-15-2012, 03:09 AM
I'm sorry, I wish I could help. I don't do fandubs really, anymore, which I believe is the project you're trying to scout for if I saw correctly.
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