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The Role of Women in Movie Trailer Voice Overs

Aug 17, 2007
Everybody knows who the movie trailer voice over guy is. The first thing to note is that I said "guy". To put a name to this man of mystery, it's Don LaFontaine.

It's no secret that the movie trailer industry is a man's world. I happen to be acquainted with and know many gentlemen who record movie trailer voice overs. Rodney Saulsberry is one of them, and his work is exceptional and highly regarded just as Don's is.

Let's cut to the chase. When is the last time you heard a female voice talent promoting a blockbuster film in the theatres or on TV? Even the straight to DVD movies, including independent films, sequels and the like, are predominantly voiced by men.

Why is that? What is holding female voice talent back from excelling in this arena? Maybe we should reevaluate the question we are asking and pose it another way: Who is holding women back in movie trailer voice overs?

Now, we have somewhere to go, because now we have a classifier to add to the mix: It is not just a collection of mere adjectives that turn female voice talent away in this niche, it is a distinct parcel of nouns that are holding the barricade up, even in this time of perceived equal opportunity in the workplace.

A noun is a person, place or thing whereas adjectives (i.e. happy, graceful, smooth, aggressive) are describing words used to compliment or detract from a given noun or verb (action word, i.e. to sing or to record).

So, a noun. A person, place or thing is preventing female voice talent from climbing the movie trailer ladder of success. A place couldn't do it. A thing which is likely inanimate couldn't proceed with such acts either.

That leaves us with a person or a group of people. One could hypothesize all the way throughout the creative production cycle and point fingers at a number of different people within the chain of events that lead to a movie trailer being produced and released.

Movie trailers are voice overs, just like any other voice over. They may have more prestige attached to them in some circles, but they are voice overs just the same.

Voice over is a creative element in the cycle and open to different interpretations, including female voice overs, so if it's not the writers, the producers, the actors, or anyone else associated with the creative aspect of production, who it is it?

That leaves us with those at the end of the line who decide how a movie is presented to the public through marketing efforts. Could it be the film industry itself that is shutting women out?

An interesting factor to consider are "Focus Groups" and their role in what is disseminated to the public. These Focus Groups tend to have a lot of sway and can change many aspects of how a movie is presented, including alternative endings, voice over, and other components in the creative realm.

Focus Groups, from what I understand, can be very exclusive and comfortable. People in focus groups don't want to lose their positions and due to that fact are often persuaded to make decisions that they do not support simply to keep their jobs.

This includes the voice over in many cases. If it is presented initially with a female voice over instead of a male voice over which is generally perceived to be a safer if not more authoritative option with movie goers that will drive in the sales and "legitimize" a film.

Now, that's just hypothetical, of course. It wouldn't be fair to pinpoint focus groups alone when trying to get to the root of the problem.

Is it that the world simply isn't ready to hear women perform movie trailer voice overs, or are there politics at work behind the scenes? Why are female voice talent left in the dust by the movie industry?

There are many promising female voice over talents who are ready to jump in the ring, including a talented performer named Melissa Disney among others. Only time will tell and open the doors to changing the status quo.
About the Author
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the VP of Marketing with Voices.com, the voice over marketplace hosting more than 10,000 professional voice talents. Stephanie is also the author of The Definitive Guide To Voice-Over Success.
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