Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

In A World Where Women Narrate Movie Trailers

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

November 11, 2008

Comments (23)

Two women watching a movie in the theatre

In A World...

In a world where the absence of one man left a massive void, a door of opportunity has flung wide open, waiting for the next great voice to take their rightful place in movie trailer voice overs.

What some people may see as 72 days of unbridled chaos, others have perceived as a light in the darkness.

Is this a turning point for female voice actors?


Preface

Today, I broach this topic with delicacy and a sense of duty.

It has been just over 2 months since we lost the great, late Don LaFontaine, the undisputed and lovingly remembered king of voice over and movie trailers.


History

Before Don died, he was quoted as saying (I'm paraphrasing what I heard him say in person here), that he felt the time for women to record voice over in movie trailers was long overdue, referencing Melissa Disney as one of the finest, contending voices he had heard. Don also intimated that it was time for women to take on a more significant role in this industry and that he was all for their success.


History That Was Decades In The Making

Melissa Disney narrated the movie trailer voice over for Gone In Sixty Seconds (2000), an action film starring Nicolas Cage, Giovanni Ribisi, and Angelina Jolie. You can view the trailer here.

Disney has also narrated the theatrical trailers for Over the Hedge and An American Girl, and according to her biography shares in the winning of a Key Art Award for Best Trailer (Gone in Sixty Seconds) and has also won Best Voiceover in the Golden Trailer Awards for the Warner Bros. film, Valentine.

Largely, LaFontaine noted that it was the focus groups that have kept women out of movie trailer voice overs, and now that he and his signature voice are gone, others have started a dialogue speculating who might take his place, including most recently Variety.com.

Variety.com's article pointed out that the female voice, while not the booming baritone voices we are used to hearing as heralds of a movie's theatrical release, are quite versatile and can play up other emotions better than a male voice could such as sensuousness, for example, and may actually fare better in action films than any other genre.


Is The Public Ready For Female Narrators in Movie Trailers?

Living in a world without Don LaFontaine, a lot of things have changed and as time continues to pass, we too must move along with it, and that includes the public discussion of this subject.


What do you think? Are we ready?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. I welcome the opinions of non-voice actors too as you represent the people who could be in these focus groups. Perhaps we should start one here?

Comment below and share your opinion.

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Alexander Hafemann

Related Topics: awards, Disney, Don LaFontaine, female voices, industry, male voices, Melissa Disney, narrators, voice acting, voice actors, voice overs, voice talent, YouTube


Comments


    Hey there Steph - This is something that is long, long overdue. There is not and has never been any reason for the dominance of men in this area. Like TV promos - I believe that the male dominance is ending - slowly but surely. I have just started to get TV promos on a semi-regular basis and hope that more producers of theatrical promos will start to give the women in this business a listen. Would be interested in what the producers have to say. Thanks for bringing this up!

    Posted by:

      Hi All- Thanks for raising this topic, Stephanie! I am in the middle of "upping the ante" with my promo marketing and trailers are somewhere on the horizon. I believe it is only a matter of time and the courage of select female voice talent that will bring about the shift you describe above.

      I totally agree that the industry is missing out by not utilizing the versatility of the female voice for trailers and more promo work. I am often cast for roles that traditionally go to men because of the timbre of my voice, but there is so much more to explore in the use of female VO talent within the promo and trailer arena.

      Like Vanessa, I'd love to see comments by male talent working in this area as well as producers.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful approach to this subject-
      Veronica

      Posted by:

        There hasn't been a single time that I haven't sat in the theatre munching away on my popcorn hearing the trailers thinking: "Why can't a woman do that?Why can't I be cast for that?'
        The critics say the audience would be surprised,and uncomfortable with a female voice on a movie trailer...I say we've got to move into the mew millineum.

        Posted by:

          Hi Steph!

          I think it is time for a change, time for something new and that includes more women doing movie trailers.

          Melissa Disney has proved that it can work! :-)

          I do TV promos sometimes, but only for TV channels watched predominantly by women. I'm sure that men would also be receptive to female voices.

          It's time for the producers to take risks in order to promote creativity!
          I can't wait to hear women on big commercial movie trailers!

          Posted by:

            Hi Stephanie,

            A topic that supports the careers of female voice talents! And on my birthday too!

            Yes indeed, I think it is time for us ladies to make a stronger mark in movie trailers. As a teenager I realized that being kidnapped by aliens was more likely than my first kiss, so I related to action, thriller and horror movies. I've never been a romantic comedy type of girl (although I have had my first kiss) and I would like to hear more female voices representing the genres that men have dominated.

            All the best,

            Ashley Huyge

            Posted by:

              It's amazing how some formats become entrenched in both entertainment and advertising. Certain formulas last for decades, like the 'growling low pitched MALE promo voice". Somehow the imagination of those who cast these things is stuck in one gear.

              But molds are broken eventually and then the old formula starts to look... old.

              The TV show 'Roseanne' broke the mold of the perfect sitcom family. The "Carl's Junior" voiceover broke the mold of the enthusiastic sales pitch.

              So I suppose we are waiting for the creative break -through that will allow women our long awaited due in promos.

              Posted by:

                Stephanie,

                Another well written and researched piece.

                The thought that came to my mind reflects on the often made statement by voice seekers who say "like Don LaFontaine" or like him or like her or like something. Why can't they get out of that box and judge voices -- male and female -- on whether or not they can do the job. It would be nice for a seeker to say "show us what you can do to advance our project."

                I hope some voice seekers read this VOX Daily and the response of the women above.

                Bud Sisson

                Posted by:
                • Bud Sisson
                • November 12, 2008 11:47 AM

                  Hi Ladies,

                  Thank you so much for commenting, showing your support and voicing your hopes and ambitions!

                  Bud, thank you also for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you and hope that people in a position to hire are reading this with an open mind, too.

                  I have received a number of comments from some gentlemen through Facebook that are supportive of women in theatrical trailers as well and hope to hear from more people on the subject.

                  All comments are welcome :)

                  Cheers,

                  Stephanie

                  P.S. Happy Birthday Ashley :)

                  Posted by:

                    The vast majority of entertainment industry "traditions" are a combination of happenstance and inertia. Nothing changes unless something stops working, or something else costs less.

                    It never actually occurred to me that trailers were all men. And I will bet that it never occurs to the vast majority of the people who decide who to hire. No one on a studio deadline is looking to make a statement or do what's right or even to maintain the status quo, they're looking for what works. The question is how to get them to look a little farther than they traditionally do. I think the time IS right to break this barrier. Because markets are segmenting and the way people consume entertainment is changing rapidly. These factors combined with the unfortunate loss of Don LaFontaine may be enough to shake the inertia.

                    Posted by:

                      Hi Phil,

                      It's a pleasure to hear your thoughts and welcome :)

                      You are spot on and I think the timing is right to also shift the paradigm! I have one idea on how we can do that but I'll save it for another post.

                      Keep this going everyone! This is fabulous!

                      Best wishes,

                      Stephanie

                      Posted by:

                        Look, it depends on the movie!! Some will always need males, like the macho Bond type films..

                        Posted by:

                          Depends on the feel that the director wants. A child could do it and be very effective if it matches the over all tone of the film / trailer.

                          Posted by:
                          • Cory Tibbits
                          • November 12, 2008 12:23 PM

                            Um, yeah. No brainer.

                            Posted by:
                            • Lisa Foster
                            • November 12, 2008 12:24 PM

                              It's important to recognize that not only did Don LaFontaine "nail" the delivery no matter what film he voiced, but that his IMAGE as the "Movie Trailer Voice" is what producers were buyingl.

                              It's not sexism as a reason that more women don't trailer...It's IMAGING. Certain voices are imaged for certain types of film. IF a woman movie trailer voice comes on to this very elite scene, she would have to have an "image" to whatever genre of films she voiced. As you know, actors like John Leader, Al Chalk, Mark Elliot, and Nick Tate "Image" specific styles of film.

                              The movie style that may excel for women to enter the market is Animated films: Anime', Fantasy, and "Gamer" style flicks. These flicks are very androgynous in some ways-but these films have fantasy, sexiness and mystical or magical powers. And, they are gaining in popularity faster than they have in the past. Anyone remember "Dune"? Compare that popularity with "Dune" or Command and Conquer".

                              Thoughts?

                              Kat

                              Posted by:
                              • Kathleen Keesling
                              • November 12, 2008 12:25 PM

                                I love what Kathleen said. It's totally image and what peole have come to expect. Sexy video game announcers! Bring it on! I don't think men would complain. I don't think 14 year old boys would complain either. ;) Do you want a 20 yr old guy saying "Woa, dude, by this awesome video game!" or a sexy woman daring you to to be the hero and buy this video game?

                                It, of course, depends on the film and the female voice! If MY voice were narrating Quantum of Solace people would laugh their butts off and wonder what the hell was going on. But how about a Cheaper by the Dozen film? And who said up there that kids could do it? I so agree! Can you imagine how scary a kids voice narrating the trailer for The Exorcist would have been?
                                Depends on what you're going for- but it's SO time for women to narrate more film trailers!

                                Posted by:
                                • Caroline Timm
                                • November 12, 2008 12:40 PM

                                  Women are already doing trailers -- albeit a small minority.

                                  But there is material that clearly lends itself to the womens' touch.

                                  I think women aspiring to do them should NOT emulate the cliche mens' trailer voice, but provide an alternative that could catch on.

                                  Our business is all about trends.

                                  Start a new one!

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Michael J. Schoen
                                  • November 12, 2008 12:41 PM

                                    I heard a female voice on "Death Race 2000" and frankly, it didn't work. I think they would work well on Romantic comedies, period dramas etc but not on high testosterone "shoot em up" movies.

                                    It doesn't work.

                                    It will happen though, I remember 15 years ago people complaining that all you heard on the radio were men singing or mens groups.
                                    Now, on many stations you hear more women singing.

                                    IVR prompts are dominated by female voices, I think trailers will tend towards male voices for most films.

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Thomas Bromhead
                                    • November 12, 2008 12:53 PM

                                      Stephanie - I think you've approached a difficult subject in a thoughful way. First, I am all in favor of hearing a womans voice in movie trailers. Second, there is no small amount of irony in this situation; Don having said that women belonged in the trailer business and then, as if to put an exclamation point after that thought, the fates took Don away from us. The only reason movie trailers have been thought to be a mans world for so long is because it's what we were all taught.... but that doesn't make it so.

                                      Posted by:
                                      • Mike Forrester
                                      • November 12, 2008 1:45 PM

                                        Great topic Stephanie and I agree that our time is coming! It still hits me over the head each time I think I won't hear Don in theaters any longer, but he was a very smart man! He knew that our time for movie trailers is just on the horizon! He did have that image (as mentioned above) and it worked each and every time...perfectly!!! I do agree that it will depend on the type of film it is, which will also determine the type of voice used. It's a very exciting time and I am not alone in beginning the task of updating demos to meet the demand that is coming our way.
                                        Us ladies have a great big voice and a special guardian angel waiting for it to pop!!
                                        Kelli

                                        Posted by:

                                          Maybe some women can, but I'm ready NOW!!

                                          Best Regards,

                                          Martin Victor

                                          Posted by:
                                          • Martin Victor
                                          • November 13, 2008 9:13 AM

                                            I was just wondering about this myself...it'll be interesting to see who is let in to fill the gap left by Don's death. I think there will still be a lot of deep-voice imitators, but some variety would be nice, especially with some female VOs.

                                            Posted by:

                                              "Things Change" is a short an pointed statement. However, the rate at which Things Change is another story, maybe not so short.

                                              I support the ideal and voracity that our LoV, Ladies of Voice, bring to light. If LoV are to be the agents of change, it will take a great deal of patience and cleverness to develop a format that will resculpt the landscape of trailers as creative genii Don La Fontaine and others, like his old partner Don Morrow and the rest, have forged and followed. This will take years to happen and not overnight.

                                              My own opinion on this is: Probably the #1 determining factor approaching this surreal part of the advertising world will be: "If" LoV are embraced by... #1, the movie going public... and then, 2&3 trailer producers and studio execs, then... the wheels will be set in motion.

                                              When this element is recognized and the judges and juries (the aforementioned)of the mainstream pass their decision that they like and accept what they hear as the new driver of the vehicle, then we will be hearing the LoV coming out. The liking and accepting I mention is defined by......$$The Boxoffice$$

                                              In Voiceover Universe Beau Weaver put it succinctly about a movie's success being determined in 1 opening weekend. When the powers at be that are responsible for putting their neck out on the line and embrace the Fiscal and physical retribution of a failure, they tend to go with the proven winning formula. It is probably capitalism's truest form. If a method has a tried and true way of creating the best $$return on investment$$ it will be a day in hell before you take it from their cold dead hands.

                                              To our LoV, Embrace the "How" that The Dons of Trailers created on the road we now travel. Take the "How" to heart, Awaken the creativeness and weave it into the surreal fabric of our trailer world. With new generations of judges and juries, there is always change on the horizon.
                                              Nothing lasts forever.....Except chocolate.


                                              Best to all you LoV
                                              Eddie

                                              Posted by:

                                                which one inspired you to seek music from other trailers which you saw later?

                                                Posted by:
                                                • Jenny
                                                • June 29, 2010 11:38 PM

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