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UNG theatre instructor ensures accents are authentic on movie set

Elisa Carlson Noteworthy
Elisa Carlson with lead actor Ansel Elgort on the set of the movie Baby Driver.

When Elisa Carlson finds work in the movies these days, it's usually through word of mouth.

Which is fortunate, considering that she works as a dialect coach in Georgia's booming film industry.

Carlson has taught voice, speech and movement classes at the University of North Georgia (UNG) since 2011 and is a resident director and actor with the Gainesville Theater Alliance. She has more than 200 voice, dialect and text coaching credits in theater, television, audio book productions, and movies.

She recently finished working with actors Lily James and Ansel Elgort, the two leads in the movie "Baby Driver," set and filmed in Atlanta. James is British and Elgort is from New York City; Carlson coached them to speak with subtle Southern accents.

"As a dialect coach, I'm really good at sorting out different accents," said Carlson. "Some people are born with an ear for it, and it helps intuit what an actor needs to succeed in their role."

Carlson said that she spent 16 hours a day on the set, hiding just out of camera view to coach the duo on the finer points of speaking Southern.

For the fall semester, Carlson will be teaching voice and diction classes, a directing class and a senior-level acting class.


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