Monday, October 11, 2010

Meet....the U.S. voice producer (Ned Lott)

Photo: Ned Lott (right) hard at work in the recording studio with director, Wayne Thornley (left)

While you were in SA you did a voice-acting workshop and directed local actors for Zambezia. Do you think that SA actors have what it takes to make it within the international arena?
It was a tremendous privilege to work with the SA actors that day and see how directable they were along with observing their strong acting skills. They indeed have the potential to make it internationally with some coaching, opportunity and experience. The key is how to be considered which is where Internet posting comes in handy, such as, and  Also there is the opportunity with more and more projects being cast with non-American accents.

You're a member of ASIFA, what is your role and do you see any links being forged between SA and the American animation community?
I work with ASIFA in producing the talent portion of the ANNIE AWARDS every year.  I’ve actually discussed forging the communities with the President of ASIFA and we look forward to seeing what can be put together. 

Do you think audiences are ready for animated films that feature voice-actors who do not have American accents?
We’re slowly getting there.  With the recent releases of How To Train Your Dragon, and currently The Legend of the Guardians, we’re seeing the box office responding positively to these types of animated films with less or no American accents.

You have been working in the industry since the 1980s, what has been your favourite film to work on and why?
The first Studio Ghibli film I worked on was called Porco Rosso.  It was a combination production with Ghibli, Disney and individuals from Pixar.  Knowing that it was one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most popular films was quite an honor, and our goal was to make the English language version as accessible as possible for a domestic audience. We worked with Michael Keaton as the lead who is a pilot cursed and becomes a pig.  During the sessions, he kept saying, “I just love being a pig.”  What a great experience!

Children are becoming more sophisticated with regards to story and scripts for animated feature films certainly have more depth and emotional complexity than they did 10 years ago. Do you think this has an effect on how you direct voice-actors?
The sophistication definitely has an effect on not only the voice direction, but on the casting in finding actors that can deliver. The voice direction needs to bring out variety and emotional depth from the actors whether it’s a dramatic or a comedic moment.  And the goal is to appeal to both children and adults with the more complex stories.   The fact that an animated film was nominated for best picture in the 2010 Academy Awards is a good sign that more complex animated features are receiving a broader audience appeal.

As animated films are so expensive to produce, most studios tend to produce sequels and now some studios are re-releasing films in 3D (for example, Ratatouille). Do you think we are in danger of the market becoming saturated with sequels/re-releases?
It all depends.  People are looking forward to seeing Star Wars in 3D.  The issue comes when the market gets saturated with poor quality sequels and poor 3D.  If they can keep the stories strong with good quality then we should be fine as there’s an audience longing for great entertainment of this sort.  But once the quality and stories drop, we’ll see a glut of poor films with eventual poor box office returns, which could affect the box office of a strong and quality story because our audience has lost trust in the medium.   With 3D ticket prices being more expensive, hopefully the care and craft of these films will stay the highest possible quality possible.

What stands out for you as an "I love my job" moment?
Coming to Cape Town and directing local actors for Zambezia and hearing them be just as solid next to the American actors, then in the evening directing local actors at Cape Town University and then going out with the team to celebrate the end of recording.  That was an “I love my job” day! Pin It

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