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.


Celebrities Are People Too


Some families go to Disneyland for a family vacation.  My family attends the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, or Calgary Expo for short.  The above photo was my daughter and I dressed as Lanterns for the costume contest and general cosplay fun.  I have also made it a point to get a picture with R2-D2 every year, something I have done four of the five times my daughter has attended with me.

I felt inspired to write something of note regarding this event when I saw the most recent guest announcement on the Calgary Expo site.  Particularly the year this picture was taken.

It was Saturday morning, Day 1 of the two maniacal days of fun.  I was dressed in my Sinestro costume, playing with my daughter who had grown tired of the voice actors panel we were seated in a few moments ago.  I was a little frustrated because I had really wanted to see this panel, since it featured Rob Paulson, Maurice La Marche, and Jess Harnel.  My daughter did not share my appreciation for voice talent and had become very bored by the whole thing.  Being the good father I am – and not one to fuel a tantrum – I took her outside and we played a bit while we waited for my wife to come meet us.

Suddenly, a woman with striking red hair, dressed in comfortable attire, comes running around the corner shouting, “I REALLY NEED TO PEE!” as she careens down the hall towards the bathroom.  Having attended conventions before, I was not completely surprised by the brash honesty of her words.  It’s Calgary Expo.  Weird things happen.  Nevertheless, I was a little stunned at the scene, and thus had failed to take note of the identity of the woman who briefly graced our presence.  I asked someone nearby if they could bring me up to speed.

It was none other than Felica Day.

No matter how many times I have seen The Guild or Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, that day at Calgary Expo has always stuck with me whenever someone mentions her name.  As she will be returning to Calgary this year, I hope that I will be able to create a new memory of encountering this wonderfully talented lady.  An experience that I will treasure for times to come.

Though I’m not sure what can top a screaming sprint to the washroom.  That’s hard to forget.