Acting : A different kind of voice over narration by Nikki April Lee

Nikki April Lee

A different kind of voice over narration

I recently learned the difference between a voice over and off screen. Both of which deals with the character not being present in the screen. My question is, what if the character IS on the screen but not talking. Instead, her voice is narrating? My young character is sitting on a school bus looking out the window. But she is narrating a brief backstory before I go into the story. How do I write this in? Would it still be considered a voice over?

Kerry Douglas Dye

Short answer to your question: yes.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Nikki, yes, you would use voice over. Your scene could be formatted as such: INT. SCHOOL BUS - DAY Sarah steps into the bus and takes a seat. Stares out the window with hollow eyes. SARAH (V.O.) I can't believe he found us again. This means another new place. Another new name... I hope that helps. Best wishes to you!

Nikki April Lee

Thanks everyone, that really helps. @Alle, you're right. I don't think the narration will be necessary. I just figured that in short films, you don't have a lot of time to brief the audience on how the character came to be, so you would use narration to keep the story moving forward and give backstory at the same time.

Rob Tromp

It can be an effective technique, especially for characters you don't want to take the time to develop, but are critical to the story you want to tell. If the actor on screen can emote something compatible with the VO and the message you want to instill in the viewer, it can make or break a film. In fact, it's good to keep a few of these in your pocket in case the first-person story you want to tell doesn't come through on the cutting room floor.

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