Some producers prefer the “real thing” when casting an accent – such at American, French, German, Chinese, etc. They say they don’t want something that’s “put on”, an actor doing a bad imitation of the accent.
But is it always the right choice to go for the “real thing” and miss out on a great performance? Many actors study voice and accents and can perfect the accent to the point that they are successfully cast in all types of projects from a documentary narration to acting in a feature film, without anyone knowing they aren’t “the real thing”. Many of Australia’s current crop of excellent actors such as Russell Crowe, Toni Collette, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana and Naomi Watts are just a few examples – they perform, you watch, and you’re never distracted thinking that they’re using a phony American accent.
So, what about professional Aussie voice artists doing accents? Do you sometimes hear one or two and cringe? Why can’t these professionals get it right? Well from what I know from my long experience in the voice industry, it all comes down to the person doing the voice casting. Selecting the right voice artist can give you an enormous amount of scope in the way a read is delivered, the variations and nuances of a skilled actor will make a huge difference to your finished read. An “American accent” needs to be defined – what region, city, demographic – the point of view of the announcer or narrator, who is the audience, what’s the purpose of using an accent? Once these things are satisfactorily answered, the good voice artist will give you just the right amount of accent, not over-doing it and not falling in and out of character as they perform. And the best way to cast a voice, is to talk to their agent.
A good agent knows their people, and their skills. Supplying a voice sample of the voice and accent is just the click of a mouse away, so don’t settle for bad imitations, get the performers who put more into the job and are worth their fee to make your job easier.
In the studio: PAUL DAVIES, character and accent specialist with Kathy Evans Voice Management. Paul is currently working on VIK THE VIKING, an animated TV series for Avril Stark Productions in Sydney. So where are you going to find a real viking these days, we ask you? (Paul is so close to the real thing, it’s scary)