Exclusive: Dan Gordon Gives the How To on Becoming a Voice Actor

Dan-Gordon

Dan Gordon talks about “Norm of the North” and getting into voice acting!

 


 

Dan Gordon is a man of many words and he has to be. When it comes to voice acting he’s had quite a bit of experience along with a lot of fun. We had the chance to talk with Dan about his latest project “Norm of the North” and how he got into voice acting. We also discuss how aspiring voice actors can hone their craft so that it evolves into a potential career.

Film Fad:

Hi Dan, how are you?

Dan Gordon:

I’m good Ryan, how are you doing?

Film Fad:

Pretty well, pretty well today. So you’re a voice in the upcoming movie “Norm of the North.” Can you tell us a little bit about that movie?

Dan Gordon:

Yes. It actually came out in theaters January 15th and it’s an animated feature from Lionsgate. It centers around a polar bear that can speak to humans and has to leave his home in the arctic and go to New York City to stop luxury condos from being built in his home.

Film Fad:

Okay, so there’s actually some underlying environmental issues maybe?

Dan Gordon:

Yeah, they tap on to that, yeah.

Dan-Gordon-Norm-of-the-North

Norm of the North

Film Fad:

So how did this role come about? How did you get into being the voice of an animated character?

Dan Gordon:

That’s a great question. Well, I think it’s my parents’ fault. I blame them for supporting my career, my pursuit in the arts and creativity. Joking (laughs). But they were really instrumental when I was a kid just encouraging me to follow my passions. And I’ve always loved cartoons and so when I was watching “Aladdin,” the Disney movie, it was the first time I had seen an animated movie where I actually knew who the actor was behind the voice of the character. And it kind of blew my mind and it clicked that I could actually do the voices for cartoon characters. So that’s where the original passion started. And then with this specific project, I got a phone call from a friend of mine who works in voice overs and he called me and was like, “Hey can you do a Chef Gordon Ramsay voice?” And I had never done one but if someone says jump you say how high? So I said, “Yes I can, yes I can.” “Okay that’s great! Call this person right now and they’re going to have you submit some sort of audition of you sounding like Chef Gordon Ramsay.” So I called this guy, I sent an audition in, and it turned out it was an audition to be the scratch actor, to do the scratch track for “Norm of the North” so that was about two years ago. And that’ kind of where it started so I did the voices for Rob Schneider, Ken Jeong, and Bill Nye and I did that for about two years. I would travel and I would always bring my voice over equipment with me in case I needed to do some new lines and then when the movie was finally getting into production, I auditioned for a handful of roles and picked up a production assistant and one of the henchman and Nigel.

Film Fad:

So when you were playing the Henchman, was this more of a isolated setting or were you bouncing off some other voice actors as well?

Dan Gordon:

All of my recordings were done solo. So I was by myself in the booth.

Film Fad:

Based on your previous work, was there anything that kind of varied between this role and other roles?

Dan Gordon:

Every character I do is…they’re all unique, they’re all different. At least I like to think they are. Every role I approach, I always start from scratch. I’ve been doing voiceover for a little while now and regardless of the budget of a project, when I get in the booth, it’s all the same. If I’m preparing differently or working differently on a big budget project then I probably wouldn’t be getting to the bigger stuff. It’s all about having a level head about all of it. What does change though is the craft services get a lot nicer. (laughs)

Film Fad:

(laughs) So is this a preference for you? Do you prefer voice work over actual TV or film live action work?

Dan Gordon:

I’m kind of treating acting and voice acting as a way to be a cinematographer. I prefer working so wherever the job opportunity is, I’m there. So if it happens to be in voice over…great, if it happens to be on camera…awesome. In terms of preference, just the disciplines…for creative reasons I love both for different reasons. Voice over is more like the way acting was when I was a kid doing plays at school. Where it’s just about using your body and knowing your lines and just having fun. So with voice over work it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing with my body as long as they’re getting the sound they want to get. So it’s very physically liberating. And on camera, I love that it does matter what I’m doing with my body and I guess use my full self to help tell a story. And that allows for more nuance.

Film Fad:

So I also looked and saw that you did some video game voice work as well. Would you say there are any differences between some of your video game voice over work versus your film or TV work?

Dan Gordon:

The only differences are based on the genre. But that doesn’t matter as much. In the video game it matters who the target audience is. I did Disneyland Kinect Adventures. In that I was playing a sweet old shop keeper. And the target audience were toddlers…young kids. So there’s a style of performance that I do that I wouldn’t do if the target audience was teenagers. But that’s not because of the video game, it’s because of the genre and the target audience. The style of storytelling in video games now is so cinematic and the writing is really fantastic now. It’s pretty much on par with what happens in TV and film.

Film Fad:

So out of your voice work that you’ve had, are there any instances where they just want your everyday voice or are they looking for someone that’s more of an impressionist that has a little bit more vocal range and diction.

Dan Gordon:

Most of what I go out for, they are looking for me. They are looking for a version of myself. And also that’s a type of voice acting. So there are plenty of voice actors out there that are really just magicians with their voices and the acrobatics they can do and the ways that they can…they’re like a Daniel Day-Lewis with their voice. They can sound like so many different people as impressionists. It’s really an incredible art form and that’s not my specialty. I do impressions but they’re really kind of just for myself when I’m stuck in traffic (laughs). And I use them as a jumping off point for developing a voice. But I don’t go out for trying to sound like Jack Nicholson or Daniel Craig. Usually they even say, if it’s commercial work, it’s not “announcery.” [They’re] looking for a normal, everyday guy. And when you watch commercials on TV and you listen to the voices, for the most part it’s almost like they’re barely even trying. They’re just talking.

Film Fad:

So what kind of advice would you give for someone trying to get into voice acting?

Dan-Gordon-BW

Dan Gordon

Dan Gordon:

No one knows what they’re doing (laughs). The community is so inviting and generous and really just like a wonderful, wonderful group of people that just love to work. My advice would be, is to find someone that works in voice over and ask them or go on to Film Fad and read an interview with Dan Gordon…

Film Fad:

(laughs)

Dan Gordon:

Taking a class is a great way to start. Take a lot of classes. If it’s something that you’re really interested in, ask yourself what your goals are. What are your expectations? If it’s something you just want to dabble in as a hobby or if it’s something you’re seriously considering as a career. And then figure out how far you’re willing to go. How much time and energy and money do you want to put into it? And if you’re serious about it as a career, take a lot of classes and treat it like you would treat any other discipline where it’s a constant practice to hone and refine your craft. And by taking a class, you’ll meet other people that are in various stages of their voice over careers and you can compare notes and learn from each other and suggest other classes and learn about all the ways you can get started at any level. But it’s also because of the technology now because you can get on Amazon or go to Best Buy and pick up microphone, plug it into your laptop, and start recording. It’s super easy for anyone, anywhere to get into voice over. It just requires a little bit of tenacity and perseverance.

Film Fad:

Well let me ask you personally, what are you looking forward to in your career? Where do you want to go, what are some possible future projects that you might have?

Dan Gordon:

I have an animated project that might be coming up. I really can’t say too much about it right now. But I’m very excited about continuing to work and play and collaborate with super fun, talented, people [that] I really admire and respect. My dream job is to be the lead voice in animated features and also have my own TV series, so I guess it’s kind of generic. But I really just want to keep working. I just want to keep having fun and collaborating and being challenged. I lose interest when I just keep doign the same thing again and again so it’s always nice to feel challenged in some new way.

Film Fad:

Well Dan I want to thank you so much for your time and talking with us. Hopefully we’ll be able to follow back up with you in the future and see how things are going.

Dan Gordon:

Thanks man! Thanks. Appreciate it, likewise!

You may recognize Dan’s voice from numerous projects and more recently from the film “Norm of the North.” Check out Dan’s other work over at his IMDB page.

Tell us about your own personal experiences with voice acting!

Author: Ryan

Ryan has been fascinated with film and pop culture since childhood. Throughout college he "played it safe" taking the more lucrative route of being a computer programmer while squeezing in film related courses where he could...but even during his post college career, he could never escape his true passion. After following one of his favorite blogs for a long time, he approached the site's Editor about writing and they reluctantly gave him a shot. He later became their Senior Writer which led to a variety of other projects, radio show appearances, features, and high profile celebrity interviews. Despite his success with blogging, he still wanted more so in order to expand his creative addiction, he merged his IT skills and blogging know-how to create FilmFad.com which has continued to grow into a creative Mecca of pop-culture fun and integrity.[email protected]   Film Fad

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