The Art Of Being An Artist

Being a veteran to the stage and screen, I know that there are a lot more roles to be filled in productions than director, producer, or lead actor.  True there is the role of the writer, which gets glanced over, but with theatre, you have the stage manager, assistant directors, makeup teams, wardrobe, technical director, sound tech, light tech, ushers, ticket sales, advertising & media.

There is a LOT more going on behind the scenes than some people realize.  Such that it can get a little confusing how productions are put together.  Take for example animated films.  When released domestically, you can have a big name actor selling the film, because their voice is featured in the marquee.  When it gets an international release, and gets a dub in the local language, then things change.  Owen Wilson was a little perplexed why he was invited to the foreign premiere for Cars, when he wasn’t voicing his own character.

That’s not to say that all voice actors step back for international work.  In The Prince of Egypt, the opening song was sung my the original actress, in every language the film was released.  Sadly, I can’t find anything to back that up except from hearsay from my own experience.  Though Wikipedia states that the director initially laid a scratch track for Miriam singing a lullaby to Moses when she put him in the river.  It was going to be replaced my Sally Dworsky’s later on, but it turned out so well, they decided to keep it.

That was something that happened quite a bit in Shrek.  The crew would lay scratch for the animatics, and when it came time to cast for the roles, they couldn’t find anything to match the level of the previous tracks, so they kept them in.

Mark Walton, who I had the pleasure to meet at Calgary Expo in 2009, also had the same experience.  When they were laying the scratch dialogue for Rhino the Hamster, they had Mark step in and do some recording.  He had experience in front of the microphone for other Disney features such as Home On The Range doing background voices, after all.  But when the time came to cast, they kept thinking back to Mark’s performance.

I really wish that I had access to a video of the following, which we saw at his panel at Calgary Expo, but I have not seen a shred of it since then.

When they had reached the decision to cast Mark Walton officially, they decided to trick him into telling himself.  They took him into the studio to re-record some previous lines, and as he was reading the dialogue, without thinking, he read the line they had sneaked in, “I’m the voice of Rhino.”  When he read it, he stopped mid-sentence, and read it aloud to the director, posing it as a question instead of a statement, “I’m the voice of Rhino?” to which the director replied, “You got the part!”

Mark then proceeded to start jumping and screaming in delight, to which the audience at the panel roared with laughter.  After the laughter had died down, we all found that Mark was STILL screaming in delight off camera!  The audience started laughing again for another good minute.

Though I have done a lot of work on stage in various roles, I have not been the lead actor.  A year and a half ago I wrote, directed, and starred in my own short production, which I would not want to do again.  But one thing I would love to do, is voice acting work.  Just need to get my demo together, as I have had some training already, and I’ll start shopping it out!

Might need an ACTRA membership too.

Regardless, I have another job, and I need to get going so I’m not late for it.

Facing the Mirror

The test of the spirit

The trial of the spirit

When I first saw today’s Daily Prompt, my mind started firing off a number of pop culture references: Michael Jackson, Disney’s Mulan, even Cool Runnings.  Ultimately, I centered on Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003), as shown in the picture above.

Aside from the fact that Genndy Tartakovsky is one of my favourite animation directors and creators, I found this series to have very powerful storytelling in the terms of Anakin’s Jedi trials.  The final trial was the trial of the spirit, also known as ‘Facing the Mirror.’  During this time, Anakin sees a cave painting come to life before him and gives him a history of the people he has come to help.  Then the story moves beyond the present and shows a very dark future of technology taking him over, with an echoing cry from Padmé.  Not the thing you like to see, but was very much something that he could have changed.

This would have lead to a disruption of the Star Wars universe, but that’s for another time.

Knowing who you are and what you will become can sit very heavy.  It can be a blessing and a curse.  Furthermore, it makes you question yourself and your values.  I don’t have that same experience every time I conduct personal hygiene in front of a mirror, but there have been times when I prefer to look at the sink rather than my own eyes.

I’m not a perfect person.  I know that.  Learning to live with myself is a process that I’ve been working on for thirty-five years, and I’m still figuring it out.  Part of the challenge is that I keep changing.  Yet, change is inevitable and something that must be embraced.

I’m going to finish off with a clip from another animated feature which stuck a chord with me.  Batman Animated Adventure Episode “Mean Seasons” featured the villain Calendar Girl, a former model turned villain when media outlets refused to employ her after she turned 30 due to her lack of appeal to the younger demographic.  Ashamed of her aging visage, she donned an opaque mask and started a life of crime.  The scene where she was apprehended still burns in my memory whenever I start to pick out physical traits I don’t like about myself.