Andrea Romano (I)

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    • Andrea: Nobody does not like Gordon.

    • Andrea: "I shall miss so many aspects of this industry – particularly the people I've worked alongside, and all the fun that happens on both side of the glass. From the bottom of my heart, I extend my sincere gratitude to every actor, producer, director, engineer and colleague that has helped make this run so incredible.
      Andrea: Doing this job, working with all these wonderful people, has been my ultimate blessing. I couldn't have hoped to spend the past three decades with a better group. I've truly been the luckiest person on Earth.

    • Andrea: I had no idea at the time! And he came in and did a guest role for me, and he was wonderful, and was very generous with the "Star Wars" stories, and so we're talking about probably 1991, 1992, about that time. And then he pulled me aside after the session and said, "Thank you, I love this, but I really want to be a part of this series," and that's the time when we needed to cast – actually recast the Joker, and then his audition was so wonderful, so stellar. I thought that's the perfect combination of actor and role, and so Mark was wonderful.
      Andrea: We would sit around and there used to be these books called "Players Directories." I think they still exist. They looked like a yearbook, but they're big, thick books. One will be "Male Ingénues," and another "Leading Men." One will be 'Character Men." And they're big books. And so sometimes when we were casting, we would just page through them and go, "Oh, Jon Polito"—God rest his soul, we just lost him—"Jon Polito, what a great character actor. He would be a great mob boss in a 'Batman' cartoon," and so we'd hire him.
      Andrea: And so Bruce Timm and I and the other producers, writers and creators of the episode would sit together and talk about who might be fun to bring in. I've always thought of casting as casting a party. Who is going to get along well together in the room, and who is going to bring something to the party? Who's not just going to sit there like a lump? Who's going to actually have ideas and say, "You know what, this may not be what you thought, but how about I have this thought about how to play this character. What if we did him with a German accent?" "That's great, let's try it."
      Andrea: And so it became a very open casting environment where we almost were not afraid to invite anybody to come and play. The worst they can say is no and, more often than not, we're surprised at how many people say yes, especially if they get to play in a "Batman" cartoon specifically. And "Superman" also had the same thing," and "Justice League," as well. And now that the world is so much more familiar with the superhero universe. You know, before people go "Green Arrow – I've heard of Green Arrow, but I don't really know him." Now people know exactly what "Green Arrow" is and I've got to give major kudos to the WB and CW for creating those wonderful on-camera series, starting with "Smallville," and "Arrow," "Supergirl," "The Flash." They're so good. They're so good, and they maintain the quality that we tried to set.
      Andrea: A lot of the movies, the feature films, fell a little bit flat, I fear – and I'm not the first one to say this I'm sure – but, the TV series and the animated projects have done very well and have maintained a caliber and level that the fans have come to expect, and I think that that keeps us on our toes. It keeps us making choices as to who might come in and play.
      Andrea: And I always fight for who I think the best actor is. If it's a rank and file voiceover actor, I will fight for that actor. If it's a big well-known celebrity, I'll fight for that person. But I want the right person to get the role. I don't believe that a kid watches an episode on TV because a celebrity is in it. I believe they watch it because it's a good cartoon. And so now, when you do the DVDs that are for sale, sometimes for marketing, we've got to put a name in there, and I understand the business side of that, but still I will fight for the right actor for the role.
      Andrea: When you're working on something where it's a long-standing character that has a voice attached to it, like the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes characters or any pre-existing property, but the original actors are no longer with us and you're trying to find the right person, what do you need to hear when people are trying to get those jobs? What are the things you listen for?
      Andrea: Number one, always – regardless of what you're casting, it's acting. It's they've got to be a good actor. If they're not a good actor, and they do a million voices, they're probably a lot of fun at a party, but I can't really hire them. I need them to be good actors, first and foremost. The voice matching field is a very specific niche that some actors are just awesome at, and some actors can handle the higher-pitched sound-alikes, and some can handle the lower-pitched sound-alikes. Some people, across the board, are just stellar.
      Andrea: And what you listen for is not just capturing an impression, but actually being able to understand how the actor, the original actor, interpreted the character, and why was that character so beloved? Why did we love the Mel Blanc voices? Why was he so remarkable? And really, aside from the fact that he was ridiculously good as voices – he did so many voices, and the perfect example of that is, any of the "Speedy Gonzales" cartoons, all of those little Mexican mice were all Mel, and they all sounded different.
      Andrea: You say to somebody "I need you to do a Mexican mouse," and they do their Mexican mouse for you. And you go, "Okay, now I need you to do a second Mexican mouse." "Well, okay, maybe I can raise the pitch or lower the pitch." You can't really change the accent because you're still asking for a Mexican mouse. It could be a little bit thicker accent or a little bit less, but you're kind of stuck in the pocket. But Mel could do six or seven in an episode and they all sounded different.
      Andrea: And so you need that kind of versatility and also that acting ability that convinces that the actor understands what that character was all about at inception, not just whatever we're doing now, but what it was that made that character fly 20 years, 25 years, or 30 years earlier.

    • Andrea: That's a good question. I love actors, but actors are moody people, and that's just the reality of it. They're sensitive people. You want them to be sensitive because you want them to give their guts when they're performing, and so that means that sometimes they don't always have the ability to leave all the outside stuff at the door that comes into the room with them.
      Andrea: And so I would have to work with people that I don't know very well before, and they come into a session, and they're really cranky, and I have to get them out of that mood. I have to get them into the work, and I have to remind them that what we're doing here, although it's very serious work and there's a lot of money behind every single cartoon, it's fun. This is great fun. And so I have to find that thing that will make them laugh, whether it's they're sitting there for ten minutes without a line, when everybody else in the room has dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, and I'll say something like – "You know, Joe keep it down over there!" Just involve them in the moment and make them realize we're not curing cancer, we're having fun, and it's silly and – and so that's an intangible: you never know what the actor's mood is going to be.
      Andrea: You also don't know – sometimes when I listen to auditions, I pick a voice because it's really good, and then that actor walks through the door and come to find out that wonderful little boy voice that the adult female did sounded that way because when she auditioned she had a cold, and now when she showed up she's healthy and she didn't sound the same any more. That's something you have to deal with. Can she pull off that voice? Or can I get a voice out of her that's at least as good as the audition that she did? Maybe it's not the very same thing. You know, when you're sick with a cold you have a nasality and that kind of works really well for little boy voices. When you have suddenly clear sinuses and you can't fabricate that sound then it's not the same any more.
      Andrea: What also happens sometimes, just before we're recording, is that our writer gets a brainstorm and completely changes a scene. Why my sessions go so fast is that I do a tremendous amount of prep work. When I walk in I'm ready to go. When they hand me a brand-new scene at the beginning of the session I'm not as prepped, and that I have to go on the fly and kind of figure it out, see what it is, and that's an intangible, too.
      Andrea: It's a sense of feeling the room, and feeling how the actors are, because every once in a while, they – it is like herding cats, and it is like dealing with first graders, and there does come the time when I have to say, "Okay, actors, actors, stop talking! Okay, you're live, let's go." So they're all enthusiastic, and they want to tell the story about what happened in the last session, and they all have great stores, and – yeah, I know, I'd love to hear their stories. I always listen. When they finish the story, okay, stop talking, now it's time for us to work. But those are some of the intangibles.

    • Andrea: I am right now directing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the recent incarnation. Puss in Boots for DreamWorks and Animation that is just – for Netflix, excuse me.  Puss in Boots for Netflix, and DreamWorks, a beautiful series. If you haven't seen it, watch a couple of episodes. It's wonderful. Eric Bauza voices Puss and – as you talk about impressionists before, people who do voices of existing actors – we just couldn't work out Antonio Banderas' schedule. We couldn't make it work. We were making 52 episodes, and there was just no way we could work it out. Eric's impression is spot on. We're also making episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender which is based on an old 80s series, and it's a beautiful show. And I'm also doing something – and this is for Amazon – called Niko and the Sword of Light which is based on an animated iPad app, and we made a pilot which won an Emmy, and Amazon said, "Oh, we should make a series," and so we're now making a series, and that will be out soon. That will be out really soon. And then there's one more series, and I can't talk about it yet. There's the virtual reality thing coming out in November, and there are several video games that I work on for Activision Blizzard which is World of Warcraft, and Diablo, and those are all constantly dropping different versions of that game.

    • Andrea: It really speaks to how good it was that it's still being – I mean, there are some shows that I've done reboots of, whether it was "Thundercats" or now "Voltron" that I look at those original shows and I go I can't believe people really followed them because they were very inexpensive animation. I don't mean to say anything unkind about them, but they weren't very good cartoons. They really weren't, but they had a fan base and people wanted to see them remade, and we remade them with expensive animation and did really good work. But "Batman" doesn't need anything. It doesn't need to be tweaked. It doesn't need to be remade. We could just make more of them, and that would be great, and I wished that would happen. I hope that sometime someone says let's spend some dough and make – bring back the original cast and make – there is something coming out this November, a virtual reality "Batman" game where I was able to get all of the surviving "Batman" actors to come and play.

    • Andrea: The year was 1989 and a bunch of my friends at Hanna-Barbera said that they were all going to leave and form Warner Brothers TV Animation. It did not exist. There was not a TV animation division. Disney had done it a couple of years earlier, very successfully. Disney has always been cutting edge that way. They're very smart. They have a business plan that's really wise, but Warner Brothers didn't have one.
      Andrea: So they formed it and asked me would I come along and direct for them, but I'd have to come over as a freelance director. So, I had to make a big career choice. Either I give up paid vacations, paid sick days, health insurance to take this freelance job, but I'd be a voice director, not just a casting director, but I'd be casting and directing. And in their attempt to pitch the whole thing to me they said, 'Well, the first show we're going to do is called 'Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures.'" Well, that kind of hooked me right in.
      Andrea: And so I knew already that that was going to be special because, right from the very beginning, Steven was not just a masthead name. Steven was reading every storyboard. Steven had story ideas. He came to recording sessions. I actually directed him in a session. And so I knew it was special right away. We made "Tiny Toons" and then we made "Animaniacs," both similar comic-shows, comedy shows, musical shows, funny, sweet, fast – you know, adorable. The spinoff, "Pinky and the Brain," one of my favorite cartoons that still holds up to this day.
      Andrea: And then Bruce Timm said I want to make a "Batman," and I want to make a "Batman" show way different than what everybody's idea of "Batman" was. Up until that point, everybody's idea of "Batman" was essentially the Adam West, very cartoony live action on-camera series, but he wanted to make a very dark cartoon, and I was absolutely gung-ho to play in the field. I hadn't really done that before, and we knew that was going to be special too, because everybody that was working on it was doing something different.
      Andrea: For example, we knew we wanted it to look dark. So, for the first time, the background artists decided to work on black paper. They did all the backgrounds on black paper, painted on black paper as opposed to white paper, and painting it all black and making it all dark. They used black paper. So everything looked different.
      Andrea: We didn't want cartoony acting. We wanted real what people would call stage acting or on-camera acting, real, genuine. It wasn't about how many voices you could do. It wasn't about if you could sing or not – although we joked a lot about doing "Batman, The Musical," and did do an episode or two that did pay homage to that. And so really, right from the beginning, I knew Warner Brothers was going to do something special, and I was very happy to be a part of the beginning team.
      Andrea: I helped form Warner Brothers TV Animation, which is so lovely because it has lasted, and I go to a Comic-Con and people will say – they'll come up, like a 50 – a 45-year-old guy will come up and say you raised me with all the cartoons that you did, and now my kid is being raised by you, because they're watching all of your cartoons. That's longevity. That's a really cool thing.

    • Andrea: I used to say yes to everything, as I've gotten older, I've learned I can't do that anymore.

    • Andrea: Truly, I love the fact that I probably know more about the DC Universe than any other 60-year-old woman! You know, it's just so strange: I'll look at something, and I'll go, "Oh, that's interesting what they're doing, that's sort of a Starro reference," and my husband will say "What are you talking about?" The fact that I know who Starro is, it's just one of those very strange crossover things.
      Andrea: I love the fact that all the different series that I've done are so varied and so wonderful, whether it's Avatar: The Last Airbender, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Batman: The Animated Series, or Pinky and the Brain, or in a single day I would do an episode of Ben 10, and then go do a SpongeBob, and they're all so different and wonderful.
      Andrea: And the musical shows made me happy. We did an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which was a more comedy-driven Batman than the animated series, and we did an episode that is so brilliant called The Music Maestro that is as good as any musical episode of any series I've ever seen – including Simpsons episodes, which are awesome musical episodes. But I think The Music Maestro holds absolutely up against that, equally as good.

    • Andrea: Mickey Dolenz, the Monkee! Mickey Dolenz played a set of twins on I think it was a Superman episode, and it was unbelievable that I got direct and meet Mickey Dolenz. Not your typical voice actor, but if you listen to Mickey's voice, he's got a great quality to it. He's got what we call a voice with character. He doesn't have to do a voice to be an identifiable voice. His voice has a quality to it already.
      Andrea: Bud Cort I got to work with as Toyman. He was wonderful, also someone I thought, being a huge fan of Harold and Maude and just going 'Will I ever, ever get the chance to meet this man?" and there I got to direct him.

    • Andrea: Thank you. I have to give Bruce Timm lots of credit for that because we always cast in conjunction with each other. We always discussed everything. It was never a vacuum. There was always a lot of thought.
      Andrea: And, you know, it's intimidating to direct a director. Peter Weller directs a lot. And so I kind of was a little bit less intimidated because I had directed Steven Spielberg. I had directed John Landis. I had directed a lot of other directors, but Peter was the one who questioned me the most, and that's kind of fun because when you have somebody really smart like that questioning a direction, you have to sit back and go, "Okay, let's try your way, too." But I always let an actor try their way, too, but I always make sure I get it my way.
      Andrea: I'm happy to hear the actor's choice, but when your director is going, "Well, I don't know I think the arc of this might go…" that's not what an actor is thinking. An actor is thinking about their performance. A director is thinking about the whole picture. And so it was very fun to work with him and quite intimidating, but we had a great relationship, and it worked out just great. That was one of my favorite pieces, The Dark Knight Returns, a two-parter, quite remarkable.

    • Andrea: With all the DC Warner Brothers director videos that we made, I was required to cast "Batman" many times. A fan told me at a Comic-Con, probably 10 or 15 years ago, that at that point I had casted 17 times the voice of "Batman" and it was hard the first time, it was hard every subsequent time, but just like you, when I prep or read a script it's Kevin's voice I hear, and when I prep or read a script that has the Joker in it, it's Mark's voice I hear, and I have to fight against that and say, "Okay, who would work?"
      Andrea: And there were lots of very valid reasons as to why it was worthwhile to recast the voice. They were doing the completely different artistic They was Batman: Year One, so this was the first year that "Batman" and Bruce Wayne takes on the Batman persona. He had a very youthful voice. Okay, great. "The Dark Knight Returns," they needed an old, not necessarily smoky sound, but someone who has like been at the bottle of a liquor bottle for years and year and years. And not that Kevin Conroy couldn't have pulled that off, because he could have, as Batman Beyond proved, but it made sense to use someone like a Peter Weller.

    • Andrea: Except it was very early on in my career. Yes, that was one of my most proud moments. I listened to well over 500 auditions for that voice. Just listened. Then I brought in, I think, about 150 actors and auditioned them personally because I wanted to see how directable they were, and then I narrowed that down to about five or six actors, and Bruce Timm and I listened to them, and we went, "Well, this guy could work, and this guy could work…" But we really didn't have that "ah-ha/eureka" moment.
      Andrea: And so I spoke to my dear friend Anthony Barnao, who is a casting director, and I said "Can you think of any stage actors or on-camera actors that I haven't already seen," and I showed him my enormous list of actors I had read. And he said, 'You know, there's this guy Kevin Conroy and he's been on a couple of nighttime soaps, he's got a lot of stage experience…" and he gave me his credits. And he said 'You should at least give him a try." And so I think it was one of the last days of callbacks when we brought Kevin in, and Kevin opened his mouth and Bruce and I looked at each other and it was the "eureka" moment when we went, "Oh, my Lord – we found him!"
      Andrea: And Kevin told me the story many years later that when he looked at Batman and Bruce Wayne he said, really, this is the story of "Hamlet" because he's a Julliard-trained actor, and he said this is Hamlet, this is parents killed, father killed, this is vengeance, revenge, this is – I thought what an interesting way to look at Batman. And so he gave it that gravitas and that's what it needed to ground that series. Without a good Batman that series wasn't going to make it. It didn't matter how good the artwork was, it didn't matter how good the supporting cast was, it needed Kevin Conroy.
      Andrea: And now you read a review for a live-action feature and they all say why don't they listen to the voice of Kevin Conroy? Why do they have these people trying to do these deep voices that are so fake-sounding, and they often reference Kevin – and I'm so flattered, and Kevin is so flattered, that our Batman series is referenced as one of the top "Batman" productions ever.

    • Andrea: I started out as an actress, when I was in New York, and then I moved to Southern California to San Diego where no one told me that there was no acting work, and then a friend of mine who I had gone to college with, undergraduate work, called me to interview for a temporary job at a talent agency in a voiceover department, and that's where I started learning anything about voiceover. And I was there for about three or four months as a temp, and then the person that I was temping for decided not to come back, and they franchised me. I want to say that this was somewhere around 1980, and for like a little tiny period of time I was the youngest agent in Hollywood, and I got to go to a lot of recording sessions.
      Andrea: I'd go to a lot of Hanna-Barbera sessions because I loved Hanna-Barbera so much, and that gave me a great insight into how cartoons were made. So when in 1984 Ginny McSwain, who was the casting director at Hanna-Barbera, called me up and said 'Do you want to come interview for this job,?" I jumped at the chance, and went into the interview with Gordon Hunt – arguably the mentor to every voice director that works today – hired me almost on the spot. But I had a little bit of background because I had been going to sessions. I had watched Gordon work.
      Andrea: I was such a huge fan of animation. I watched cartoons like a crazy person when I was a kid, back in the day when cartoons aired on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and that was it. That was it! You had to rush home after – you know, TV – after school to watch TV for a couple of hours before Mom came home and catch what cartoons you could. So, I learned a lot on the spot, on the job, but I had a little bit of background about it.
      Andrea: I learned when I was at Hanna-Barbera. I thought it was important to learn what every aspect of cartoon making was. So, I learned what a storyboard artist does, what a writer does, what a layout artist does, what an in-betweener is, what all that – so that I understood what everybody's contribution to this thing was. And, because in voiceover we do the voices first, and then it goes away for animation for 9-10 months, and then it comes back and we do ADR to picture, there's a big gap in my job, where I don't know what the heck is going on.
      Andrea: So I thought "Let me find out what that is," and I think that's a really smart way for any voice director to appreciate what everybody's contribution is to make a good cartoon. Because, knowing that, what we give the animators after that initial record will really be the blueprint for the entire cartoon. So if an actor does a very kind of low-key slow read, that's what's going to be animated. If it's a really energetic, high-energy read that's what's going to be animated. And so it's crucial that we get it right.
      Andrea: And knowing that, I think, helps everybody feel better about what you're doing and that you respect what they are doing too, and understanding what an editor goes through when they're trying to get like a tie-in – a razor blade in-between one line and another: "Can we cut that apart to make the scene work this way?" All those things, I think, were really key things. So I learned a lot on the job.

    • Andrea: So when I first started casting at Hanna-Barbera it was a time when celebrities and known recognizable on-camera actors wanted nothing to do with animation and they wanted nothing to do with voiceovers. They thought it was beneath them. And then there was this whole paradigm shift where people realized that they could be cast in roles that wouldn't be cast on camera, that it was a very good money-making industry, and that it was great fun.
      Andrea: That was the most important thing: that we made sessions fun. They were fast and furious, but they were really fun. We made sure there was a lot of laughing going on, even in a very serious "Batman" show. And so, all of a sudden, agents – I have always had a very good relationship with agents because I was one. Before I was a casting director I was an agent. When I became an agent – when I became a casting director, I maintained my relationships with the agents, and so they would feel comfortable calling me and saying, "Hey, I just signed Blah-Blah-Blah, and they mentioned that they're interested in voiceover, and they're specifically interested in voiceover for animation."
      Andrea: Come to find out, a lot of the reason was—aside from the fact that they may not be cast on-camera in these roles—their kids couldn't watch a lot of their work that they were doing on camera. You do a show like "CSI" or "Criminal Minds" and your young kids can't watch those shows, but you do a "Batman" episode and you're the hero of the household. You suddenly are like every kid in the neighborhood is in your driveway going, what, you did a "Batman" episode, when is it coming out, when can we watch you? And so a lot of actors got very interested and would actually approach me. Mark Hamill actually approached me to ask if he could be a part of the "Batman" series

    • Andrea: SpongeBob is very challenging because all the actors can't always be there at the same time. I'm one of those directors who really enjoy an ensemble record. I like to give the actor a chance to react to the guy before them. That's not to say that I am not very successful at getting the correct performance when I have to record actors individually. I like the energy of all the actors in the room. It's like when you do the table read, doing the rehearsal and the actors can cut up, play, ad-lib and do all that stuff. I like to bring that into the recording studio as well. However, you don't always get the chance to do that. SpongeBob, we have the wonderful Clancy Brown who plays Mr. Krabs, he works a lot theatrically. He's even right now in Texas for three months, so I have to record him separately from the cast and that creates a challenge.

    • Andrea: My favorite Emmy outfit is actually a peignoir set (that's a very old fashioned word for a nightgown and robe set). The one I have is pink, and lined with fake ostrich feathers...it's just the robe that fits. Looks so great...if I remember, I'll send you a picture. By the way, most of my Emmy's clothes were given to me as a gift from Scott Menville's wife Jacquie (Scott, as you know, is the voice of Robin on Teen Titans)

    • Andrea: I began my career as an actress, receiving a BFA from the State University of NY at Fredonia (who recently honored me with a lifetime achievement award). I then went on to Rutgers for a year in the masters program. Before I finished my degree, I felt the need to get out of academia and go test the waters in the real world. I spent some time beating the pavement in Manhattan while working as a cashier at Capezio in the Village (dance and high fashion clothes & footwear). In 1979, I packed up my life into my mother's attic and moved to San Diego (with the huge sum of $400 to my name). I very soon discovered the lack of acting opportunities available in San Diego. Luckily, I was contacted by a college buddy who turned me onto a job as a voice over agent's assistant. Voice over agents represent voice actors for commercial and animation work as well as promo and movie trailer work...all voice over work. I began as an assistant...a few months later I was the youngest franchised agent in Los Angeles. I left there a few years later to start a voice department at a "boutique" (meaning specialized...not a million clients) agency. After being an agent there for a few years, I was offered the job of casting director for Hanna Barbera productions. It was truly the offer of a lifetime. I had the wonderful experience working with the brilliant Gordon Hunt (he was doing all the voice directing for Hanna Barbera) one of the best mentors anyone could hope for. I was at Hanna Barbera during the time of The Smurfs, The Snorks, Popeye and Son, The Pink Panther and Sons, A Pup Named Scooby Doo...dozens and dozens of cartoons were produced there every season. In 1989, several people from Hanna Barbera took a giant leap of faith, left our secure jobs, and formed Warner Brothers Animation. I became a freelance voice director and haven't stopped working since! (Whew!) We made several series with Steven Spielberg...Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid!. I also started casting and directing action cartoons like Batman, Superman, Justice League, Batman Beyond. I did many series for other studios as well...DuckTales for Disney TV (even did a season of Winnie the Pooh!), Rescue Rangers...a few projects for Universal (the first 5 or so videos of Land Before Time).

    • Andrea: If someone were to observe a recording session like this, it would resemble an old radio show broadcast...many actors in front of microphones in a sound proof booth.

      Oftentimes, a voice actor can't make a session at the same time as the rest of the actors (celebrities often have limited availability, and so are often recorded separately). This certainly can be accommodated, but it's not the most advantageous way to record (in my opinion). I'm of the mind that a large part of an actor's performance comes from reacting...and it's hard to react when there's no performer there to act with. However, many animated features never record 2 actors in the same session at the same time...and quite successfully, too! It's just not my personal preference.

      Sometimes we record from a script, and sometimes there's a storyboard (a comic book looking item that breaks the script down into small panels which help to show the action.). Although most studios want to record from storyboard, once production starts to lag behind (as it often does), the recording is typically done at the same time that the storyboard is being created. Hopefully, the board artist has a chance to listen to the recorded, edited dialogue track and make any adjustments before the board is finalized.

    • Andrea: All voice directors work differently. Here's the way I work:

      I prefer, whenever possible, to record the entire cast at the same time (the is sometimes called "ensemble" recording). This session would begin with a rehearsal or table read...during this time, I describe the action to the actors while they read through the dialogue lines out loud. This is the time when questions can be asked and answered regarding the action (i.e. "how far away are these two characters?", or "how far am I falling when I scream?" or, "What does 'Guard 2' look like so I can give him the right kind of voice?"). Since we record the voices before animation, we have to be very careful to supply the animators with the best possible vocal tracks since it will absolutely effect their work.

    • Andrea: It was a different time. There were only a handful of people doing this work. It was a simpler time in many ways and yet, it was more complex when we think about our technology now and how easy it is…we go to an ADR cue that's at time code 10 minutes thirteen seconds 15 frames-- we go right to it. Back then we would have to roll through the reel all the way to get to that so there are certain things that are easier now because of technology, but there is a simpler mentality about cartoons. There were really no mean-spirited cartoons then and with the exception of the cartoons like the classic Warner Bros., Looney Tunes and Jay Ward cartoons they were mostly made for kids. There was not really much concern about broadcast standards because of trying to push the envelope. We were making children's shows -- Smurfs, you know. So I was at Hanna-Barbera for 5 ½ years when Disney approached me and said we're going to create a division of Disney called Disney TV Animation and we are going to do a series called DuckTales. We are going to audition five different directors (at this time I was just a casting director) and they asked if I would come in and audition by directing an episode. They were doing 65 episodes and that was a huge number -- usually things were ordered in 13 episodes. It was also the time of merchandising when some of the cartoons were simply 22-minute commercials to sell the toys. So they were going to take the first five episodes and had five different directors before making a decision as to who was going to make the rest of the 60 episodes. I was apparently the 2nd director that came in to audition and after I finished they said they weren't even going to see the other three people. They wanted me.

    • Andrea: I was at Hanna-Barbara for 5 ½ years approximately and that's where I met you, which is one of the joys of my life and I remember you telling me years and years ago, "Andrea, I don't know…You want me to do this boy voice and I don't know if I can do little boy voices. I always think of myself as the cute little-girl voice." And I said, "Nancy, I know you can do it." I remember it being like Popeye or something.

    • Andrea: George O'Hanlon was recording the feature some of the last bits that we were doing and he had not been well, he had had a second stroke. George said, "Andrea, come over and put your ear next to my head."
      Andrea: So I did, and I could actually hear the blood pulsing through his skull I could actually hear every heartbeat. I said, "George, how do you hear anything?"
      Andrea: He said, "It's really getting hard to hear you guys speak to me." As we got through the session, we never tried to record him longer than an hour because we knew it was taxing. We could see him getting paler and paler and I looked at Gordon, who said, "Let's just stop for today and we'll bring you back in next week when you're feeling better."
      Andrea: So we called his wife, Nancy, from the office and suddenly his head just pitched forward onto her chest and I saw this look pass between her and Gordon and I knew that something very bad had just happened. Instantly called 911 and the paramedics were at Hanna-Barbera in three minutes to whisk him away to the hospital. We followed him in our car but he had died. They put him on life support in the ambulance but George O'Hanlon really died in the recording session doing what he loved.
      Andrea: So we went to the hospital and the doctor came out after examining him and said he's gone and Nancy O'Hanlon, God bless her, really had her spiritual stuff together and said, "Please let him go. We talked about this. We knew that this was going to happen one day…there is no reason to keep him on." Isn't that the coolest way to go?

    • Andrea: We did the auditions for months and we had maybe 150 actors for the voice of Batman and we kind of had a Clint Eastwood thing going with a kind of raspier, quieter sound and then Kevin Conroy walked in the room and did one of those wonderful things that happens once in a lifetime. He just nailed it and we all just said, "We're done!"

    • Andrea: [on Steven Spielberg] For those fans who don't know this already, he was very hands-on. He was not just a figurehead. He looked at storyboards, he looked at story ideas, he read every script, he had input. Matter of fact my one real massive claim to fame is although many have been directed by Steven Spielberg I am one of the very few who has directed Steven Spielberg. I have the outtake reel in case I'm ever broke.

    • Andrea: (talking about a typical voice session for Avatar) Avatar has its own specific challenges regarding recording. The actor who voiced Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen) lives on the east coast. The rest of the actors in the main cast reside in the Los Angeles area. It's a major part of my job to make sure it sounds as if these actors were all in the room at the same time...so that it sounds like the characters are all in the same scene. It would be disconcerting if Toph and Katara and Sokka were all talking at a conversational level (volume) and Aang sounded like he was shouting his lines!

    • Andrea: It's the voice director's job to make sure the writer's and producer's requests are incorporated into the recording session...after all, when it comes right down to it, it's the producer's show. It's my job to be sure to get them the vocal tracks they need to make the cartoon they desire.