Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

VO in-Car Workout

Advanced Acting Exercises: Getting your character beyond words:

Car talk:

If you’re developing a particular accent or character, read everything you see while driving in that voice– billboards, traffic signs, menus, etc.  Repeat everything said or sung on the radio in that voice.  Do this until you feel you can read anything convincingly as that character.  You may look insane to other drivers, but who cares? This should be fun and will get easier and more fluid the more you do it!

Car-improv: 

Now add comments in character in addition to what you are reading while you drive around. What would the character say? What are the thoughts, gripes, wishes, observations, etc. that these billboards and signs illicit in your character? Say it out loud! Keep talking and don’t shut up. Again, you may look a bit crazy, but in my house, “crazy” pays the bills!

 

Variation 

Radio copy cat:

As you drive around listening to the radio, repeat everything that is said in various character voices. You can focus on one sound alike for all commercials or news features you hear, or mix it up with whatever voice character strikes you. You can also try going for a voice match of who is speaking or perhaps characters on shows you like. This can be a lot of fun, but you look insane. So what?

 

Make use of all that drive time!

Many of large cities, especially Los Angeles, mean lots of time spent driving to auditions and gigs in a car. Some complain of this– the traffic, the wait– but you can make good use of it!  In addition to the ideas above, try working on your accents with dialect CDs or other voice acting teaching materials you can speak along with while driving. If you are working on impressions or building new characters, listen to original sources and speak along with them. You can also fill you mind with showbiz history, literature, audio book memoirs or classic radio dramas or comedy shows.

Drive time is terrific work time to improve your skills and knowledge and even strengthen your love of your craft. I did “Acting with an Accent” tapes when I first moved to L.A. and listened to a lot of old time radio and even Loony Tunes when prepping for “Space Jam.” Recently I’ve got a lot out of autobiographical audio books read by Rob Lowe, Steve Martin, Martin Short, John Badham and Frank Langella.

Forget listening to the crappy local radio or news! It’s a waste of your precious time! Enrich your work by making use of your drive time!

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© Dee Bradley Baker 2017
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