Sunday, May 8, 2016

Coaching Water – Erich

Our host, the owner of the apartment in which we are staying, is a film director. And he asked us for a favor.

In one of the films he recently made, the main character is a young Turkish man who has been raised in Europe and the United States. Some of the movie takes place in New York. The basic story is that his grandmother is dying and he learns that he is not actually Turkish, but in fact, Kurdish. Then he goes on a journey of discovery.

So here was the favor. The director asked if he could bring over the actor who played the young man and record some of the lines spoken in English again for audio dubbing. He wanted those lines to sound more American.

The actor is a talented man who is Turkish and learned his English in the U.K. So naturally, he doesn't sound like an American when he speaks English.

I don't know much about being a dialect coach. But Alrica and I were able to suggest how we would say some of the phrases, how we would pronounce them. Of course, it is a huge challenge for the actor. He has to say the words again, trying to match our pronunciation, and trying to match the tone and emotion that he had when he actually made those scenes.

The single hardest word: “Water”. The way we say water has nothing really to do with the letter 't'. But how to explain that we “swallow our t”?

The short a sound is also one that is very distinctly different in America and Britain. The actor had to say “ma'am” and that was a challenge. And the long i sound in the word “night” sounded very British when he would say it.

It was a fascinating experience. I hope it helped the film. But I wonder if it just made the actor feel he was sinking into the “water”.

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