Nov 03 2009
You want your characters to sound as natural and human as possible–without being boring–right? This doesn’t mean that every word that’s said must be golden words of infinite wisdom, grasshopper; what it does mean is that your characters need to be believable.
Here are just a few tips to follow when guiding your actors through their dialogue.
Maintain consistency. If your movie takes place in Ireland and your actors have their Irish accents down perfectly, great! Just keep in mind that these accents will have to be maintained throughout the entire film. If Mr. O’Brien is going on about his potatoes in one scene and then suddenly drops the accent when he sees an alien on his farm, it’s going to be very distracting for your viewers.
Cut all unneeded dialogue. If it doesn’t serve a purpose in the film, it doesn’t need to be in it–period. The four main purposes of dialogue are to move the plot along, to explain character, to provide relevant past history or to show feelings you can’t show otherwise. Be sure that your dialogue does at least one of these things before filming the scene.
The same goes for words that are being used when you don’t need them. Unless you have a really poetic way of saying, “I like you” or “I’m so mad!” just go with the character’s actions to convey these words instead. The effect will be much more powerful, whereas using overused words will just make it appear lackluster.
Edit dialogue so that it will flow smoothly. If your actor can’t get a breath in while delivering an epic sentence, it’s probably best to cut the sentence down a bit.