Voice Overs



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  • Voice Overs

    MOst books and sites suggest that agents hate voice overs and will automatically dismiss a script if it starts off with one. Is this an exaggeration?

  • #2
    it really is. the conventional "wisdom" is that a voiceover is a lazy way of telling a story when really you should be showing the story.

    however, a lot of great movies have voiceovers, and voiceovers can be great. sometimes, new writers tend to use voiceovers as a crutch, and that is what you should avoid, and not the use of voiceoevers altogether.



    • #3
      The next voice you hear...

      It's a very conditional thing. Most movies I've seen recently that use voiceovers obviously do so to fill in for faulty storytelling in the film proper.

      On the other hand, there are genres and story types in which tightly-controlled narration can be a credit. I'm thinking of film noir/hardboiled detective films, or reminisces such as Stand By Me. Maybe a fantasy or historical flick, which presents itself as a dramatization of a particular record or chronicle. And there's always The Princess Bride.



      • #4

        Eh... I don't know if I agree with that. Yes, a lot of the time they're used as crutches, but plenty of great movies have them, if used correctly. The first two examples that come to mind are Jerry Maguire, and American Beauty


        • #5

          Voice over tends to be used by only two types of writers: novices and experts. If you have any doubts about which category you're in, it's probably better to stay away from using it.


          • #6

            Just think how you feel when a movie starts with a VO. I usually brace for a lame flick. But, that said, if you're committed to VO's, use them.

            I don't think I'll ever use one. I freaking hate them. Hate.



            • #7
              Fight club couldn't have been done without voice overs


              • #8
                The point

                I think that's the point. Use voice overs for movies that couldn't exist without them (i.e., Memento, Fight Club, American Beauty, Chinatown).


                • #9
                  Re: The point

                  Does the voice over make your script better, or are you using it as a short cut? That's the only question you have to worry about. Scripts sell because they are good, not because they follow all conventional wisdoms.


                  • #10
                    Re: V.O.

                    Voice over can be very effectively used to express the protagonist's assessment or opinion of a person, place or thing -- the "internal dialog."

                    The best example I can think of is Dances With Wolves, where the V.O. keeps the audience apprised of Kevin Costner's current level of understanding of the Indian culture.


                    • #11

                      Is it okay or do you use voice overs, for a telephone conversation?

                      scenerio, I have a man speaking into a cellularphone with a loyal associate, but I do not want him to be shown just his voice to be heard, to add some type of wonder, so to speak:


                      ASSOCIATE (V.O.)

                      ^^^^ Is that correct? Can someone tell me what is? Thanx...


                      • #12
                        Re: question???

                        A phone conversation doesn't really constitute the kind of voice over people are talking about here. That's real time dialogue where one of the people is just off screen, like talking to someone in another room.

                        The "dreaded voice over" is things like having a shot of a family eating dinner and then voice over saying "This is my family. They're nice but loud. Look at my little brother. What a pig" etc.

                        Personally I thinl VO is one of the unique tools of film and if you can do it well and it is an essential part of the story you should do it.


                        • #13
                          Re: question???



                          You hit the tone of bad VOs perfectly. Ouch. I've seen scenes like that with that type of VO. That's all I saw, though. Just that one scene.

                          Someone mentioned the VO's in American Beauty. Now, that's completely different. That's more a 'Guess what I'm thinking now' VO. Those are much easier to take because you hardly realize it is a VO. It's so much more internal.



                          • #14

                            So, you are speaking of the Voice Overs in films, such as American Beauty...


                            • #15
                              Re: Okay

                              The bad voice over:

                              A man approaches an expensive mansion. Gold trim and lawn decorations are abound.

                              MAN (V.O.)
                              There's some gratuitous over-indulgence.

                              ***Here, we gather the obvious VO before he says it. Show rather than tell, yadda yadda.

                              The not-bad voice over:

                              A man's boss stands in front of his desk. He's a portly man and looks like he's been afraid for most of his life.

                              I'm going to need you to go ahead and reconcile these bank statements. Start with the last previous year and roll it forward to the present...

                              The boss' voice trails. The man studies him.

                              MAN (V.O.)
                              I found myself wondering what this guy would look like screwing a sheep.

                              **Like someone above said it's the "here's what I'm thinking" convention -- you couldn't have possibly known what the disgruntled employee was thinking unless he opened his mouth. Now, that doesn't necessarily make this little chunk of drivel enlightening or worthwhile... but you get the point.