By Stephanie Ciccarelli
March 20, 2007
Ever wonder how the Dutch fare in North America for voice overs?
Check out this exclusive interview with native Dutch voice talents Hans van den Nieuwendijk and Christa DeRidder of DoDutch.com, a Dutch pair living in the United States of America.
I contacted Hans after reading a recent press release DoDutch.com distributed last week. Here's a delightful interview with two people who literally "Do Dutch!"
Stephanie: I've always wanted to go to Holland and have relatives living there. Tell me, which part of the country were you from originally?
Hans: I was born in Dordrecht, grew up in the southwestern part of The Netherlands (Terneuzen), studied in Tilburg (Brabant) and lived in Amsterdam, Almere, Boskoop and Veenendaal.
Christa: I was born in Vlaardingen (near Rotterdam) and grew up in Melissant (south of Rotterdam) and in Bonaire (The Dutch Antilles, near Aruba). I also lived in Germany for a couple of years and also with Hans in Boskoop and Veenendaal.
Hans: In October 2002 we were relocated to the DC area, and when my contract expired, we were lucky enough to win two Green Cards in the lottery. Last December we moved to beautiful Colorado and are both freelance voices, translators and producers.
Stephanie: How hospitable have you found the North American market to be for Dutch voice overs?
Hans: You know, I am still amazed by the fact that a lot of Dutch narration is being produced and edited here in the US. You think they would outsource it to The Netherlands. But all-in-all, it's has been a fun ride. Somehow we Dutch are looked upon as nice and easygoing people and even during (ISDN) sessions technicians and clients listening in come with with stories of their time in The City of Sin (yes, that is Amsterdam) making those sessions sometimes feel like you're in a bar yourself. Doing business here in the US has been extremely pleasant.
Stephanie: Do you perform your voice overs as a duo (both male and female voice used in the same project) or is most of your work recorded separately for different clients?
Christa: We do. Mostly we work on projects by ourselves, but every now and then we do voice projects together. We once recorded a GPS system together, that was a lot of fun. I can only imagine someone who knows us, buying that GPS and just can't get away from us. It sure makes us laugh out loud every now and then. "Oh no, that's Christa telling me where to go... let's change to the male voice... Oh no, that's Hans..."
Stephanie: That must be pretty comical!
Do you perform in English as well as Dutch? I've heard that in Holland you have to learn English at school in addition to Dutch. Are you both fluent in English as well as Dutch?
Hans: We are fluent in both languages and yes, even before birth in Holland you are susceptible to the American-English language since we do not dub movies or TV shows into our own language but use subtitles instead. The downside to that is that we hardly can speak British-English, but we are increasingly recording in English. One American client told me that having an European-English accent voice over, improves the credibility of its product. You just have to watch the American commercials to see proof of that.
Stephanie: What kind of projects bring you the most Dutch voice over work?
Christa: For me, the most work right now comes from a work safety project. Most of it is multiple choice questions... abcd... abcd.... abcd....
Stephanie: What are your favorite projects to work on?
Hans: I have been doing news voice overs for over 12 years now and that still is a lot of fun. But playing different roles and exploring my voice outside the straight narration perimeter is a great challenge and I hope to have the opportunity to do that more often. It is always good for voice talents, however experienced you are, to keep playing with your voice.
Christa: I would just LOVE to do a voice acting for an animation project. So far it never came up, but I would just love to do that. I once had to do a child's voice for PADI, just a very short piece... I love that.
Stephanie: Do you have a client base in The Netherlands? If so, how do you find working for those clients with the time difference?
Christa: We have clients all over the world, also in The Netherlands. Time difference is not a problem, since most of our clients do not work through ISDN. But if necessary, I would not mind to work in the middle of the night for a client to deliver a project through ISDN.
Stephanie: Do you network with other Dutch talent in North America? How many Dutch speaking voice talent would you say there are in the US?
Hans: There must be more Dutch people doing voice overs here in the US but somehow I only met one. A number of times we have been asked to three to four different voices for the same project, so that kind of makes me think there are not many Dutch professionals out there. And that's weird, since Dutch folks tend to seep and creep everywhere they can.
Stephanie: What is the most interesting or most meaningful project you have ever worked on?
Christa: The most interesting project for me was for the GPS-system. It is so strange to have to speak neutrally, and record small and short words that "hover" in the air, because they need to be able to put those words in the middle of a sentence. I learned a lot on that project. We recorded in a professional studio, and the technician took us out to lunch at a great Thai place. And that was another lesson... do not eat very spicy Thai food before a recording. My mouth went dry, my stomach was burbling... thirsty, thirsty, thirsty!
Hans: That has to be singing for a Jimmy John's commercial. I must be the very worst singer on the planet (I would be on re-re-reruns of American Idol as that Dutch guy singing like a wooden shoe). I was required to sing way out of tune and with a very heavy Dutch accent. It was an ISDN-session and we had to take several breaks since the client didn't stop laughing. Boy, did I nail that session! Christa had to take the dog for a walk, though, she just couldn't take it anymore. Neither could the dog.
Stephanie: What would you say are the greatest benefits that you are receiving as a result of being a member of Voices.com?
Hans: Well, eh... that's kind of a tricky question, since, eh... I have not yet landed a project through Voices.com. But aside from that, Voices provides talents with an excellent and broad array of tips and tricks, valuable documentation and guidance. That helped me a lot. So, even if I don't land a job on Voices, I will still renew my subscription.
Stephanie: What are your upcoming projects? Any goals that you are striving toward?
Christa: As I said before, I would love to do an animation voice, or a commercial. I love to act, so that would really be great.
Hans: I am working with Chris on a huge Microsoft project, will do an English narration for Holland America Line, something for the European Union and some voice prompts. And we will record our new demos pretty soon. But I would love to watch "24" on a Monday night and hear myself during commercial break. Or play even the tiniest part in a movie. One can but dream.
Thank you for answering my questions Hans and Christa. To your continued health and success.
Hans: Thank you for the opportunity!
Christa: Thanks :)
P.S. If you're a Dutch VO living in the US or Canada, introduce yourself to everyone here by leaving a comment on the blog.
P.S. I have an update from Hans! After this interview was conducted, Hans and Christa landed an interview with a local newspaper (Reporter-Herald). Here's a link to read the article at DoDutch.com