Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal Talk About Their SHELF LIFE Web Series, Their Comic-Con Experiences, Tips on How to Succeed in Voice Acting and Much More!

     July 16, 2012

hero-lass-shelf-lifeVery cool.  One of my last questions, at least for Shelf Life…I did like the episode where you had the knock-off character of Hero Lass come in.  Can we expect any more of the imitation characters to appear in the future?

Platt:  It’s very possible that there will be more Knock-Off Hero Lass.  Part of the arc of season four is going to include, perhaps some of the characters you’ve seen before.  [Laughs]

Lowenthal:  Yeah, we liked a lot of the characters who’ve come in as guests so far and we’d love to bring them back.  We’d love to just have more and more guest characters in there anyway, because the world is opening up.

Platt:  Yeah, we’re trying to explore and expand the world.

Gotcha, sounds great.  I wanted to switch gears a little bit.  I’m here in San Diego preparing for Comic-Con, I know you guys are probably going to head down here soon.  I think you have a panel this Friday, is that correct?

Platt:  We have a panel on Friday night, 7:30 in room 26AB.  But we’ll be there Thursday and Saturday signing autographs and doing interviews and various other things and Yuri’s got another panel on Sunday for Ben 10.

Could you guys talk a little bit about your past Comic-Con experiences? I don’t know how many times you’ve been here before.

Platt:  My goodness, I think this might be number eight.

Lowenthal: It might be…seven.

Platt:  It’s either number seven or number eight in a row.

Lowenthal:  They all blur together.

tara-platt-yuri-lowenthal-comic-conPlatt:  I know, they do start to blur together.  We’ve been coming for a number of years both to enjoy the panels, although, in more recent years, we’ve gotten to see fewer and more far between panels than we used to.  We used to get to see a lot more.  But we love going to Comic-Con and I know Yuri tells people that growing up, he was a convention nerd.  He would go to convention and he would get his signatures of people he admired or liked.  All the Doctor Who or stuff like that.  But I was very new to the convention scene until I started going to the convention to sign autographs and do panels.  So, it’s just been a really wonderful experience and I think that Comic-Con is a great, great time for everybody.

Lowenthal:  Yeah. It’s the one long weekend out of the year that all my favorite things and all my favorite people are in the same place at the same time.

Platt:  It’s like sleepaway camp.

Lowenthal:  It totally is, it totally is.  Like Tara said, I grew up going to convention.  I was on the East Coast so they were smaller; Star Trek convention this, Doctor Who convention that, comic books and this is sort of the mother of all of those conventions and for us to be able to go in a professional capacity…it really is a dream come true for me.

So since it seems like you guys started as fans before appearing professionally, what are you looking forward to at Comic-Con this year as fans?

Lowenthal:  It’s like Tara said, we don’t really have the time to wait three hours in line or 20 hours in line to get into Hall H.

geek-and-sundryPlatt:  We’re really excited to see what Geek & Sundry announcements are going to be.  We’ve been very excitedly following the channel that Felicia (Day) and Will (Wheaton) have been working on and…Felicia Day, Kim Evey and Will Wheaton have been working on, Geek & Sundry, and we’re very excited about their announcements.

Lowenthal:  My favorite…I always like to go to the Weta booth, to see all the crazy models that Weta’s come up with.  But for me, Comic-Con is about surprises.  Whenever I try to plan Comic-Con, “Oh, I’m going to go to this panel or I’m going to make sure to see this person,” or whatever, it never works out.  So I’ve become very Zen about Comic-Con and I just let it take me on that wave.  Then, afterwards, I like to look back and go, “I didn’t think that I was going to be at that party with Nathan Fillion and then there was Nathan Fillion and I shook his hand,” or whatever thing it was. So yeah, I don’t really have any plans, I don’t have anything specific.

Platt:  We do have plans: we’ve got panels, we’ve got autograph signings, we’ve got interviews, we’ve got things we’re going to, but as far as like…we’re looking forward to being surprised.

Sounds great.  Hopefully you guys get to hang out with Nathan Fillion, because who doesn’t want to do that? So the next thing I wanted to talk about, if we can switch gears again, is your voice acting.  Obviously you’re both well known for that, a number of different projects from TV shows to games to all kinds of different things.  If you could just maybe run down your favorite character to play, I’m sure you get that question a lot, and some voice actors of yesteryear that inspired you.

yuri-lowenthal-ben-10Lowenthal:  Yeah, I’m clearly a nerd from way back and I have been watching cartoons and playing video games since I can remember, since I had to put quarters into video games.  Some of my favorites that I’ve done, I keep going back for this dream come true thing, but it really is.  The Prince of Persia from The Prince of Persia video games is still one of my favorites, I love playing Ben 10 on Ben 10. Getting to play Superman for Legion of Superheroes? I mean I got to play Superman for God’s sake.  I just assumed that that would be the pinnacle of my career and I’d just have to retire after that.  Getting to work on Afro Samurai was a great experience.  Just one thing after another, it’s so exciting.  Getting to work on, this isn’t a voice acting credit, but getting to work on the Terminator show, Sarah Connor Chronicles, I mean that’s why I got into acting, so I could do stuff like that.  It’s been terribly, terribly exciting, but as far as people that…the great thing about being in this voice acting community is people, if they’re good, have a long lifespan, so a lot of the people who I admired from yesteryear are still working in animation and videogames and I’ve gotten to work with them.  That’s another nerd-out time for me when I show up to work on a show like Ben 10 and I see that Rob Paulsen has signed in in front of me, or Maurice LaMarche or Clancy Brown or Phil LaMarr, those people and I’m like, “Oh my God.  Not only are they in the building but I’m going to go and work with those people.” That’s something that I still have to summon every little bit of will that I have to not freak out and get my nerd juice all over them.  [laughs] I’m trying to act like a professional when I go in there, but it’s still a thrill to work with guys like that.  The community, the voice acting community is super strong and really, really welcoming.  It’s full of really good people.

wonder-woman-tara-plattPlatt:  Yeah, I would agree.  Working in voice over is just a wonderful experience because it really boils down to your work.  It has nothing to do with what you look like or your age or what your gender is, it really has to do with your skill set and if it fits into whatever the project at hand is.  I feel like it sort of separates the boys from the men and the people who stay in the industry and are working all the time are the people who are really, really good at what they do.  And so it’s a joy to be able to work with those people and to work alongside them.

Some of my credits that I’m particularly proud of or that I like, I mean I got to be Wonder Woman, in DC vs MK, and just like Yuri said with Superman, it’s Wonder Woman, right? That’s awesome!  And I’ve loved playing Tamari on Naruto and all the iterations of the various video games.  Recently I got to do motion capture as well as performance capture, doing the voice work, for Ellie Martinez in Resistance: Burning Skies as well as videogames like Saints Row, it’s just fun to be doing what we’re doing.

Absolutely.  And before we had started this conversation, I had mentioned that you guys put out a book, “Voice Over, Voice Actor,” which was an informative guide about getting into voice acting and the behind-the-scenes things that go along with that.  Do you have any advice for people who want to get into voice acting or are considering it or are at least interested in it? And do you have any new projects that are coming out that are related to the previous book?

Platt:  Sure! Well, the advice that I always like to give people, it’s totally free, all you have to do is read out loud, like really start pulling words off of the page and getting used to the sound of your own voice and getting used to reading for comprehension.  I think that’s a huge thing and that’s a skill that will help you in many, many ways, whether or not you end up doing voice over, it’s a wonderful skill, that kind of communication and getting comfortable with your voice and being able to read very quickly for comprehension.

voice-over-voice-actor-tara-platt-yuri-lowenthalLowenthal:  I think people, because it sounds so simple, would say, “Oh, I know how to do that,” but so much of our job is getting scripts, we don’t get a lot of time to work with the script, we don’t necessarily get to read the full script or get it in advance.  Sometimes we’ll show up for a job with a videogame or a cartoon and they’ll hand us a script and they’ll say, “Okay, let’s go! Do you have any questions?” I don’t even know what the questions would be! I haven’t even finished the script! So the more you practice reading out loud, the better you get at making decisions really quickly and pulling comprehension out of whatever you’re reading.  You can pick up anything: a newspaper article, magazine, comic book, whatever it is and just practice reading out loud.

Platt:  And then I guess the other two things I would recommend to people are, if you really are enjoying the idea and the work of reading and knowing you can format it and perform with what you’re doing, consider getting involved in some sort of theatre group or some sort of play.  Just start honing your skills as an actor, because acting is just using your imagination and your creativity to bring a character to life, and the more practice and experience you have doing that, the more comfortable you’ll be doing that behind the microphone.  So get into your local theater group or take an acting class or make your own short film; somehow start yourself with the process of acting, make sure you enjoy it and you like it, because it’s really easy to look at a career from a distance and go, “Oh, I want to do that!” but are you actually sure you want to do the work that is involved in doing it?  So, get into an acting class, get on the stage, start working, and then always remember that what acting at its core is is asking questions and using your creativity, so ask your who, what, why, when, where, how, you know your English class questions, ask those about the character, about the scenario, about the situation and use your imagination to answer it.  Then, work from there because that’s really what acting is.

Lowenthal:  Yeah, we found that the people who really have longevity, who we really noticed have succeeded and kept succeeding in this field are not only just good voice actors but good actors.  I know a lot of people say, “Hey, people always tell me I should be a voice actor because I do all these crazy voices or because I have this really cool voice,” and that’s a great place to start, but the fact of the matter is it’s the acting that will win out.  A lot of the jobs that we do don’t involve lots of different crazy voices, it’s just us in our natural range, but then you add the acting in and, on top of that, to make it a good round three things as far as advice is concerned, just be professional.  Be a good person to work with, a nice person.  Often times we’ve found that you don’t have to be the best actor, the best performer to get the job if people like working with you.  Show up on time, make sure you’ve done your work, make sure when you leave the booth you don’t leave half-empty bottles of water and gum stuck to the bottom of something or other, learn how to take direction.  Just be a pleasant, polite, professional person to work with and that also seems like something really simple, “Oh yeah, I know how to do that,” but it’s so important, so important.

yuri-lowenthal-tara-platt-voice-actorsPlatt:  Yeah, professionalism is key.  Then, to answer your last question, not about the advice we could give, but as far as what’s coming up, in terms of our publishing company, that is how we published our book, we actually have a novella that Yuri co-wrote that’s going to be coming out later this year, a film noir novella that’s going to be coming out and we’re really excited about.  It’s called Tough City, so that’s exciting.  And then we’re working on a movie.

Lowenthal:  Yeah, we’re working on a movie called Con Artists that is all shot and done and edited and now we’re working on some of the other post things, color and sound and music.  It’s about us as voice actors, or at least slightly…it would fall into the mockumentary domain.  It’s about voice actors doing the convention circuit and it’s called Con Artists. It’s actually about half documentary, because we shot at about 10 or 11 cons over the course of a year.  So a lot of it is real interviews and real people talking about the convention scene and then the rest of it is us…

Platt: Being silly.

Lowenthal:  Yeah, being silly.  So we’re looking forward to that.  That should be coming out soon.  It’ll probably be available for some sort of viewing in the fall.  We’re excited about that.

Platt: Busy, busy.

Anything else you’d like to add before I have to let you go? We’re about at the end of our time.

Lowenthal:  I guess I would just say, we’re having a really fun, live interactive webcast party for Shelf Life on Wednesday the 18th, so next Wednesday at 8PM Pacific time.  All you have to do to take part is go to your friendly internets and go to thestream.tv/live and we’re going to be answering questions; the whole cast will be there.

yuri-lowenthal-tara-platt-voice-overPlatt:  We’re going to have fun games and give-aways.

Lowenthal:  Yeah, give-aways, question and answer.  We’ll be doing a little bit of a performance and some other fun stuff.

Platt:  And a special announcement.

Lowenthal:  Yeah, a special announcement and talking about the launch of our IndieGoGo campaign to help fund season four.

Platt:  And you can always go to shelflifeseries.com and it has all the information there as well and that’s always a good place to start with getting more information about the show.  And we’re very easy to stalk online: I’m @taraplatt and he’s @yurilowenthal on Twitter and on Facebook and whatnot.

Be sure to check out the Shelf Life fourth season launch party.  You can find the details here.


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