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Zenkaikon 2013: Richard Epcar and Ellyn Stern

Proving that they are game for a good convention that fits in their schedule no matter where it is, Richard Epcar and Ellyn Stern did a full slate of panels at Zenkaikon 2013, including a discussion centered on Ghost in the Shell, a discussion on their experiences as directors, and Richard’s ever infamous outtakes panel.  Due to timing constraints I was unable to make it to much of the Ghost in the Shell discussion.  Richard did say that he would love to play Batou in any live-action adaptation of the material, but that is up to Steven Spielberg and his people as they are the ones making the film.  Unfortunately, according to Ellyn, the chance may have already blown due to a incident in a pediatrician’s office years back involving one of their sons, Spielberg’s son, some dinosaur figures, Spielberg’s then wife Amy Irving, and a very icy stare.

Both Richard and Ellyn have been in the entertainment industry for quite a number of years now and have done just about every aspect of it including action (obviously) as well as writing and directing for voice acting, live-action television and movies as well as stage plays.  Surprisingly they don’t actually see the projects they are involved with after they complete them due to their busy schedules.  This lead Richard into a very unfortunate incident when he tried to watch Ninja Scroll on a plane, not knowing much about it beyond the character he voiced in the dub. They’ve both had their fair share of misadventures in dubbing, including a director telling Ellyn to reproduce “the beautiful voice” without actually telling her which voice he meant from her past performances and Richard having to spend an entire day slowly repeating lines for the recording of Kingdom Hearts while the executives with Disney and SquareSoft spent 5-10 minutes debating each individual read.  According to Richard, Christopher Lee was able to escape having to do that by saying “I’m going to read each of these lines, once, then I am going home!”

Richard and Ellyn have both been working in the industry in various ways for over 40 years, so they’ve had their fair share of interactions with other entertainment folks.  Ellyn shared a story from when she was very young.  She was cast in a stage production of Peter Pan with Vincent Price playing Captain Hook, and she made the mistake of asking him a question right before he was to go on stage.  He was apparently very nice about telling her that you never talk to an actor before they go on stage, but it’s a lesson that stuck with Ellyn since then. They both also demonstrated their unique ways of warming up their voices in the car on their way into the studio.  It was certainly unusual.  And apparently very necessary for a lot of the video game work that they do, which involves up to 4 hours of endless screaming in various ways, simulation a man being set on fire by a flamethrower among other recorded atrocities.

They both also gave some advice on ways to break into the entertainment and acting industry, though truth be told it wasn’t much different from what anything I’ve heard from any other actor.  Act wherever you can and be professional about things.  Nothing gets you turned down faster than being unprofessional and having  a bad presentation for the people who make the decisions on who gets hired for a project.  As mentioned at the top Richard also did a run of his outtake panel, but I can’t say any more about it.  Richard asked us not to, and getting on the bad side of someone who can say some of those outtakes with a straight face would be a bad idea.

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