How do I make my voice sound scared.
November 28, 2008 3:34 PM   Subscribe

How do I make my voice sound scared?

I've never had an acting lesson but I find myself on camera more and more. Next week will be the third time I've had a gun pointed at me and I have to act scared. The first two times were awful. I can do what I want with my face, but my voice sounds ridiculous and not believable in the least. Are there any tricks for this?
posted by Idiot Mittens to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, a good general rule is, if what you're doing doesn't work, do less. Just speaking in a quiet voice (either slowly and carefully or very quickly, depending on the circumstances) should do it. Maybe a bit of tremble, if that works.

If there's a gun pointed at you, your voice doesn't have the full responsibility for revealing the fact that you're scared. All you really have to do is not sound not-scared.
posted by winston at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2008

Alter your breathing, the rest will follow.
posted by fire&wings at 3:55 PM on November 28, 2008

The breathing is good advice. Also think about what your body does when you're scared--your muscles tighten and your throat clenches. You may find that making tight fists and tensing your body alters your vocal quality.
posted by EarBucket at 4:07 PM on November 28, 2008

The above suggestions seem good. I would tense up.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:32 PM on November 28, 2008

Make your pitch a little higher, and be breathy with your words. Try this: BREATHE the word "No" out, instead of saying it. See that? Add that effect to anything you need to say.
posted by thatbrunette at 4:43 PM on November 28, 2008

I am a performer/actor/musician.

When I need to get that fear in my voice, I close my eyes and think about being sexually assaulted by Brett Favre.

I'm not being a crackpot, it works for me.
posted by peewinkle at 6:48 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Part of the fun in watching actors is watching the internal battle. So depending on the situation, you might not want to play "scared" so much as play "I have to get a hold of myself and stop this guy from shooting me." And the audience watches you trying to get a grip on yourself.

Of course so much depends on context. I wouldn't focus entirely on just altering your voice/breathing--just doing that alone will likely ring false. Imagine yourself truly in the situation. What do you have to do to get out of the situation? Scream? Maintain control? Get the shooter to pity you? Make it real enough for yourself and the voice will come.

Of course every actor has their own process, so YMMV!
posted by stray at 7:42 PM on November 28, 2008

Drink four Red Bulls beforehand, then try to talk calmly.

(Really, an actress friend does this.)
posted by rokusan at 11:01 PM on November 28, 2008

It might help if you act out like you're scared rather than just altering your voice.
posted by valadil at 12:23 AM on November 29, 2008

I don't know if this applies or not, but I remember the standard actors' trick for acting drunk: just act really, really sober. Because drunk people try to act sober themselves a lot of the time. So you exaggerate every movement and word perfectly.

Try to act really, really...not scared. I wonder if that even makes sense to me.
posted by zardoz at 3:35 AM on November 29, 2008

Have you thought about watching scary movies, esp ones where the actors portray potentially real people in an authentic manner? Watch movies like No country for old men, the shining and listen to the actors voices.

Or, watch videos where people are pranked and listen to their voices respond in fear.

this is esp funny and hopefully helpful:
posted by learninguntilidie at 5:48 AM on November 29, 2008

You may also want to try this--take some time to sit down by yourself and think about what being shot would mean. Think about the immediate effects: what it would feel like to have your face torn apart by a supersonic piece of metal. Think about bleeding out on the sidewalk. Also think about never seeing your loved ones again; your parents, your significant other, your kids if you have them. The more real you can make the situation in your head (and this does take some work and practice to do) the more real your fear will be.
posted by EarBucket at 7:51 AM on November 29, 2008

To put it more simply--don't try to play fear. Playing an emotion almost always leads to doing too much. Try to be afraid.
posted by EarBucket at 8:02 AM on November 29, 2008

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