pleasure. He enjoyed that I did six different languages and accents in rapid fire during the play, and that’s why he chose me as his coach.
From audition prep through to the critically acclaimed broadcast it was a wonderful experience all around. I received this letter from Jennifer, which she graciously offered to be shared here:
Thank you is not even enough.
So let's recap...
A panicked phone call! We were in desperate need of a dialect coach and through some kind of weird fate we found you. Then Wyatt books the role! Then another panicked phone call about pages and pages of dialogue to dissect and learn and absorb with only one weekend to do it. You made it happen, you were so calm and confident.
You are professional, accommodating, encouraging, supportive, and patient. You have given Wyatt more than a new dialect to work with, you have opened him up to so many more opportunities and introduced him to how limitless he can be. You have the perfect balance of work and fun during a session and Wyatt has really connected with you. You push him to be confident and to not let frustration get the best of him.
Then finally, the last panicked phone call about the ADR!!! We both know the delicacy of that ADR session and you were the most calming presence. Wyatt and I felt so very confident and safe with your ability to get what was needed out of him and to let him shine. Your compliments to Wyatt after that experience mean the world to us.
Here's to a bright future, more dialects and great success to both my Wyatt and you. Thank you a million times over.
You are amazing,
Keep an eye out for this rising young talent. And here’s to more ‘happily ever afters…’
Here’s what he wrote about our experience:
“Recently, having to prepare a Downeast Maine accent for a production of On Golden Pond, I called upon P.J. Ochlan, whom I'd had the pleasure of working with in The Comedy of Errors. In that play, P.J. demonstrated his enormous facility with dialects, having to do six or more throughout the course of the play. His talent for coaching is just as impressive. P.J.'s knowledge, ear and style of coaching helped bring me to the specific area of Maine that my character was from, while also adding extra little touches that aided me in defining and expanding my previous choices. I cannot recommend him highly enough.”
Jerry’s other theater credits include Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel and various shows with The Shakespeare Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and San Diego Repertory Theatre.
His film and TV credits include guest starring roles on Grey's Anatomy, Mad Men, Weeds, NCIS, The Suite Life, and Castle, among many others.
He has been the Artistic Director of The Attic Theatre Ensemble and is a member of Theatre of Note and Circle X theater companies in Los Angeles. As a stage director his credits include The Holy Mother of Hadley, New York, Nothing Personal and Trojan Women at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Not content with just being an actor and director, Jerry produced and directed the second DVD release for the Reduced Shakespeare Company entitled The Complete History of America, Abridged.
He has directed four award-winning short films, Two-Minute Warning, King for a Day, The Traveling Salesman and Speed Relationship-ing, which won the Dances With Films 2 minute 2 step Challenge, was a finalist in the IFC/Absolut World Filmmaking Competition and has screened at The Sedona International Film Festival, The Charleston International Film Festival and The Ohio International Film Festival in Athens.
Jerry gets in touch with me needing a Downeast Maine accent. “Is that in your wheelhouse?” he asks. “Shah, I can do a faih Dahneastah!” I reply.
Prior to his latest stint in Las Vegas with Cirque du Soleil's LOVE, Jerry had landed the classic On Golden Pond, starring alongside two stage and screen greats, Hal Linden and Christina Pickles.
I recently acted on stage with Jerry in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors at A Noise Within. Jerry is a remarkable talent with amazing physical comedy skills and a tireless work ethic, so sharing the stage with him was a true
Some of the greatest breakthroughs in accent reduction can come from making fun of the accent you’re trying to assume. Try it sometime. Mimic a character from a film or TV show. Exaggerate the imitation. You may be surprised by the result.
You can apply the same concept to American actors learning foreign accents. I’ve been fortunate to play a bunch of different accented characters throughout my career. That doesn’t mean I had to permanently lose my American accent off-camera as well. I acted the accents, which is the perfect starting point whatever your accent needs may be.
The same holds true if you’re a non-actor looking to lose your foreign accent for business or social reasons. If you were over a certain age when you first moved from your native country, it’s unrealistic to expect to completely lose your foreign accent naturally. Your brain has already decided how your voice should sound, and your mouth and all its parts haven’t had a lifetime of experience forming the sounds of your newly desired accent. However, once you accept that the process is somewhat unnatural and requires some semblance of performance – it actually gets a lot easier.
Give yourself the freedom to play within your new accent. Worry less about rules and more about sound. That’s certainly the philosophy behind my method at Dr. Dialect. I use creative techniques to get you to form the correct sounds within the sphere of real-world American speech.
If your goal is to regularly speak with your new accent, then over time, as you gradually reprogram your mind and mouth to default to your updated settings, you will find the acting part is no longer necessary.
As the saying goes, 'Fake it ’til you make it.' But make sure you have fun faking it ;)
One of the first things I often share with my students is my concept of ‘acting the accent.’ If you’re an actor, your talent for portraying different characters and expressing a range of emotions is a tremendous asset when trying to learn a new accent. Take for example foreign-born actors looking to acquire an American accent. These students frequently approach the task expecting a long process of dissecting rules and studying textbooks, while forsaking the advantage they’re starting out with – the ability to act.
My remarkably talented young student, Wyatt Oleff, landed a leading guest star role on the hit ABC series Once Upon a Time. His character, along with experiencing an emotional rollercoaster over the course of the episode, needed to speak with a Scottish accent. This was something that, at the ripe old age of ten, Wyatt had never attempted and felt extremely insecure about. So much so in fact, that when he and his mother Jennifer first contacted me with very little time to prepare for the audition, they wondered if it might be best to pass on the opportunity altogether.
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