Accents for Voice Over!!!

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Many voice over artists love doing accents.  It’s great fun and it’s a great skill, if you can do it really well…and there lies the rub.  Can you do it really well?

In my experience, those who are expert at accent work all have something in common.  They’re passionate about and fascinated by, the way others speak.  In order to create accent/character work that’s authentic, they make a detailed study of it.  But what is it that they study?

The key to creating authentic accents is an understanding of the phonetic structure of the sound.  How are the sounds placed inside the mouth?   What are the shapes of the vowels and consonants?  What is the rhythm and music of the phrasing?  What is the tongue doing?  How are facial features used, like cheek muscles and lips.

Great performers who work with accents analyze all these elements, which are absolutely key to understanding how accents are created.

I’ve heard some demos that have included accents that just aren’t up to scratch…and having any work on a demo that isn’t ‘brilliant’ is a real no, no.  However, with a lot of research and a lot of listening and watching, you can school yourself in accents and learn how to feel confident when the opportunity comes your way.

I recently came across Amy Walker, who has an incredible talent for accents.  Have a look at these two videos.  In total they run about 13 minutes and she has some great tips on the mindset needed to build accent work into your performance repertoire.  Just click on the link for a look at a truly talented voice artist.

How to Learn Any Accent Part 1

How to Learn Any Accent Part 11

Great tips…and here’s a question.  She’s based in Seattle in the US, but is she English or American?  She slips so easily between persona’s that it’s quite impossible to tell.

Next I want you to look at another video I found.  This is an English kid who has a completely natural ability to create accents and persona’s that really are spot-on.  However, when you watch his video, I want you to remember this.  He’s improvising.  The dialogue is his own but it’s mostly just in his head.  I don’t believe he’s reading, although there are some sections towards the end where he could be.

What I want to say about improvising is that there’s a big difference between being a brilliant improviser and comic performer (as he surely is) and taking words off the page and creating an authentic character for them, although I’d certainly hand him a script and see what he makes of it.  You might be able to do accents and entertain your friends endlessly but unless you’re a knowlegable narrator and story teller with great sight reading skills, your talents won’t take you into a voice over career.

This vid runs about 8 minutes.  Take special notice of how he works his face, lips, tongue etc.  Unfortunately, I can’t find his name anywhere but he’s sooooo good…funny, canny and totally charming, although I would like to take a razor to that fluff on his face.

The English Language in 24 accents