Sunday, May 20, 2012

Q & A: Jamie Marchi Part 2 of 2

RonniGuy & Jamie Marchi

The second half of our interview continues about two minutes after Part 1.  In the first part of our interview Jamie compared her experiences in voice acting and writing and gave advice to beginners attempting to break into both industries.  In addition to my fellow contributor Grant, Jason Sackel and Steve Yurko from The Unofficial One Piece Podcast were also in attendance. If you haven't done so already, be sure to check out all the great content on their site.

By RonniGuy

Jamie:  How much time do we have left?

ACen Moderator:  About fifteen minutes.

Jamie:  Oh sweet, we have time then to continue our chat.  Alright, who wants to chat about something else?

I got nothin', let’s go back to talking about the boobies list on your computer.

One Piece:  You said that with writing you look ahead into a character’s future and that you don’t with voice acting.  Do you find that doing so brings a different dynamic?

Jamie:  Yeah, at least for me.  As far as the voice acting I don’t have a lot of time.  Can you imagine if I was - I’m writing two shows, so that’s twenty four episodes I have to watch, then if I’m in three shows - who has that time?  But when I write it - as a theater actor, I started off as a theater actor - for me it’s like a great rehearsal.  Not only am I writing it, if I’m already cast in my voice, which makes it easier in terms of rehearsal and motivation all those things, I have practiced that line saying it out loud numerous times to make sure it fits.  So that helps a lot basically and technically so you can go in there and nail it and look like a rock star.  It definitely brings a different dynamic.  I feel like I have more time with the script.  Most of the time we don’t get the scripts ahead of time as voice actors.  We don’t get time to look at it and sort it out and figure out the dynamic.  We have to trust the director to tell us what is happening and then act on the fly.  On some video games I will read it for the first time out loud and that is the take that they get.  I’d be thinking, “you don’t even know what I said, but if you think it’s good then let’s roll with that.”

PA:  In voice acting do you find there’s a different dynamic if you get a chance to record with some of the other voice actors compared to when you do it on your own? 

Jamie:  I think all of us, if we could have our druthers - did I say that right?

PA:  Yeah, I think so.

I'd agree to watch Hulk one thousand times over if it kept you looking in my general direction, and I'm talking Bana Hulk, not Ruffalo.

Jamie:  If I could I would. I think most of us would want to record together because there’s someone in front of you and acting is all about affecting another person.  If they’re not there you have to have a vivid imagination to imagine what you’re doing to that other person who’s animated in front of you.  It’s certainly a challenge.  We had a fun little experience where I just turned off the beeps.  We go on the fourth beep, they’re like the microwave beeps.  They let us know when to talk.  So I turned off those and just did the scene with him.  So he was doing it and I would read the line back to him.  That was just really a cool moment and most of what he got we kept.  Then when I went back and recorded the scene for myself, cause I was just in the director’s chair reading into a microphone.  When I went back and did it, because we had already done that and it was such a cool and magical moment that we could go back there emotionally and be where I was at that moment.  It was a really cool experience.  I think that if we all had all the time and money in the world we would rehearse them for weeks and then be able to do that.  It does hone your skills as an actor to make good choices and get it out on cold readings.  A lot of actors are nervous about cold readings.  I’m like bring it on, I got it.  I can nail these cause I can make that choice and make it happen really quickly and it's just from having to do that.  We do a lot of table reads.  You know what those are?  Some of our friends that write and do film work want voice actors to come in just to hear the script out loud because we don’t have to read it ahead of time and normally we can just figure the character out and get through it.  It’s kind of a neat thing and you’re like “how did I get this skill?”  It’s such a random skill to have but I’m glad I have it.  

+1 Cold Reading Skill.

We take a minute to type some notes and take some photos.  For a brief moment no one asks any questions.

Jamie:  I feel like we are in a panel, this is what happens at panels.  They’re always like “anyone? Does anyone have a question?”  I give them crap about it.  I’m like, "why are you here?  Why did you come to my panel?  I just babble about nothing."  How about you? [Steve Yurko] How about you ask me a question and let’s see if someone has asked me that question before?

One Piece:  I think this is more for clarification but, did you do some of the script writing for The Sgt. Frog dub?

Jamie:  Yes.

One Piece: Was there a certain section or season that you wrote or just everything?

Jamie:  I wrote on all seasons.  The last few seasons it was just me, Chuck Huber, and Jared Hedges.  Mostly, Chuck Huber and I.  Jared was head writer on that. 

One Piece:  I just have to give you props and really commend you for some of the jokes that were in that dub.  It was really entertaining.

Jamie:  Thank you.

One Piece:  There were some of the most obscure references in there.  I don’t think you were the one making the wrestling references in there, were you?

Jamie:  The wrestling references?

One Piece:  There were just a few old, old school wrestling references thrown in there.

Jamie:  Now, I do have this powerful thing called Google...

Google?  Never heard of it.

Jamie:  I can’t say for sure whether or not I wrote that part.  It sounds familiar, but it could have been just that I was in that episode.  I find out a lot about random things when something makes me think, “oh, you know what?”  This sounds like - let’s say a wrestling term, I don’t think I wrote that episode - it would be something I go research.  Like, "what’s the name for this?" or, I would find myself in some comedies just for fans, I’ll throw in like Pokemon references and stuff like that.  I never watched Pokemon, but my younger brother did, so I would say, “now what are they saying?” I’ll go find him for Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh!, for Dragon Ball Z even, I’ll go to him and Google random things if it makes me think of this or that.

Jamie:  Like Hetalia, I learned a lot during Hetalia.  I actually have a friend who lives here, she’s Lithuanian.  We did a sketch comedy group together, which is where I got my sense of humor a bit.  Well, I’ve always had it, but it’s where I learned to let the freak flag fly at that point.  So, she is Lithuanian and I called her and was like, “why did your people hate Polish people again? What was all that about?”  So she filled me in on all of those dynamics and her mother was in the room with her when she was on the phone with me and I could hear her get really mad in the background and she’s like, “I’ll tell you why...”  and started shouting.  She didn’t even know what I was asking for.  She was just bad mouthing Polish people and she was all up on it.  But still, that kind of helped me figure that dynamic.  I do a lot - especially, just cause I don’t know a lot about it doesn’t mean it’s not funny or shouldn’t be in there - of random googling stuff.  I really like to use quotes that people know.  It makes me think of good titles.  For Sgt. Frog, they’re all different movies, almost all of them are puns on different movies and stuff like that. There’s a lot of research that goes into that, like the boobies tab on my computer!  You know, I only know so many terms for boobies.  I’m learning...I think it’s like there’s two or three hundred on this one website so I’m going through it and I’m like, “that means small, I need it to mean big.”

Why? Are you writing an autobiography?

One Piece:  Do you prefer writing dub adaptations that are completely different (Americanized), or one’s that are more faithful?

Jamie:  Really, it depends.  That is like my universal to every question.  Number one, I am never true, true to the translation because it’s so formal and I am not just repeating a translation.  The translation does not always reflect the character.  What I am trying to do is adapt the script as a writer, to tell a story with character and create a character through their speech.  In the translation what you probably notice is it’s usually pretty formal, which is pretty standard.  However, I know that I speak differently than let’s say, Michael Tatum, who’s a lot more formal and that defines a character.  For me, that is such an important part in whatever I’m writing that it’s never really a direct translation.  That being said, it’s my little soap box about character development and speech.  That’s all I have.  The animation’s already there.  All I have to find that character is the speech and I write it in such a way that the actor and director are going to enjoy doing it.  Which means it’s easy, it’s technically correct, and fun for them to do whether it’s a drama or not.  That being said, with things that have a tendency to be truer, those are good because they tend to be easier.  I don’t have to punch it up or try and tell a joke in a way that would make sense to Americans.  Where as in those comedies it’s definitely a challenge, you know because you have a joke - with comedy, timing is the most important thing - I’m limited, because I can only have those slots.  There might be a random slot before in this one sentence, so it’s creating and crafting a joke in such a way that it not only fits into the plot, but it’s funny.  That can get real real hard or difficult.  It gets better and easier the more you get with it, but it’s certainly more difficult.  That being said, I like it when it’s easy and I know I’m not gonna have a headache and it’s gonna be simple and I can breathe this week because it’s an easier week but those are the one’s that tend to be funnier, even if they take forever.

One Piece:  Do you like it more because it’s more challenging, or because it’s more fun?

Jamie:  Both, true with voice acting characters, the one’s that are more challenging are usually my favorite.

One Piece:  To give us a general idea, how long does it take to write a script that’s true to nature and one that you have to restart?

Jamie:  Twenty to twenty five hours is the average.  It can be a little less if it’s staying truer.  If it’s much more original - this is just for a twenty five minute episode - it can be upwards of forty hours with how much research I’ve done on a show recently versus a show I can’t talk about.  I can’t wait until I can.

Us too!

Jamie:  I did research a lot on a particular show from the eighties, I crafted a lot of quotes in there and that took me probably fifty or sixty hours to do cause I was researching a lot and sorting jokes and quotes that I wanted to use and make an order of preference and well, I’m a little OCD.  You should see my suit case, it’s very organized.

No, I do not have photos of her suitcase.  That's just creepy.

If you just can't get enough of Jamie Marchi, be sure to visit her Official Site and follow her on twitter @marchimark

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