Behind the Mike

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Voice actors talk about what it’s really like to deliver their lines for the pros at Audioworks.

Mike de Seve, creative director of the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning team Baboon Animation, recently had a chance to talk with some of the incredibly talented voice artists over at Audioworks Producers Group.

The artists — Debbie Irwin, Billy Bob Thompson, Erica Schroeder and Serra Hirsch, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld — chatted about what it’s like to work regularly at a successful post house in the film industry, and gave the inside scoop on the award-winning music producer who started it all: Kip Kaplan.

Serra Hirsh

Serra Hirsh

Mike de Seve: What is your favorite part of working at Audioworks?

Serra Hirsh: That you never know what one session will entail — you walk in and could be walking out having voiced a 3-year-old, an 80-year-old man, a ball of fuzz, a squirrel, hippopotamus, monkey, a plane and a mom, all in one session.

Billy Bob Thompson

Billy Bob Thompson

Billy Bob Thompson: The ball busting and weird projects.

Debbie Irwin

Debbie Irwin

Debbie Irwin: The work is FUN FUN FUN and allows me to use my acting chops, so it’s not work, it’s play! And the people rock.

De Seve: What was your first impression of Audioworks? How long ago was that? Any other fun details of that historical moment?

Irwin: Kip Kaplan had been on my radar for quite some time and when he called me in to audition for him I was thrilled. I had training as an actress, but never dubbed before, which he figured out in a nanosecond, yet he was very kind about the whole process. It was exciting, challenging, overwhelming and illuminating — I left there determined to get training in this area to be able to read the script and follow the lip movements simultaneously.

Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld

Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld

Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld: My audition at Audioworks was one of my first out of college. I was surprised by the level of perfection Kip expected of me right from the (literal) word go, but it’s that same expectation that has pushed me to rise to the occasion in all my work from that moment onward.

Mike: Kip — and I’m really going out on a limb here — could be considered a character. Anything fun or funny you want to say about him?  Don’t hold back!  Or maybe do!

Erica Schroeder

Erica Schroeder

Erica Schroeder: Kip is a rude, cheap, stubborn, punctual, talented, genuine, honest, gregarious, loyal, charming, first class son of a bitch … but I love him. Bottom line is, though, he’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it … especially if he could write it off at the end of the year! He’s a family man and has the loveliest wife and kids that he’d do anything for. Audioworks is actually the only company I’ve ever received a bonus from. Like I said, he’s loyal and lets you know when you’re appreciated.

Rosenfeld: Kip is the Jewish father I never had. I already have a Jewish father, just not one quite like Kip.

Irwin: Kip knows what he wants and gets right to it!

Thompson: I’ve never seen any of the projects I’ve worked on with Kip … and I’m so very thankful for that.

Hirsch: Using “And….Go!” as an audio starting point instead of beeps is uniquely Kip.  I can honestly say I have not experienced that with anyone else. Also, if he eats popcorn (in your ear) during a session, you are in for a treat!

Mike: Working on international cartoons can sometimes be quirky, if not outright bizarre. Any funny moments you can share? 

Rosenfeld: There was a cartoon where every joke about my character was either a fart joke or a joke about her being fat. We moved away from the fat and leaned into the farts, like the mature feminist artists we are.

Hirsch: Lovable main characters named “Cocks” may not feel quite right when used in English — but we’ll make it work.

Thompson: The biggest problem I find with international cartoons is the script. The true intent of a line is often lost in translation and if the clients are too precious with their lines, you sometimes find yourself forced into reading things that sense do not make lots no good.