Being George Clooney director Paul Mariano Interview, Jessica Klein, 40 Oz. Pimp
We talk with Being George Clooney director Paul Mariano about Steven Sodeberg firing voice actors, how much money Mariano expects his film to make, Bolshoy Lebowski and Russian bootlegs, the billion dollar dubbing industry, Beijing films vs. Hong Kong films, the influence of American cinema and gun violence on other cultures, and why Mariano cancelled his interview with WFOD.
We also talk with Jessica Klein about Outsider Art, and 40 Oz. Pimp apologizes to Warren Rodwell, reveals that he likes to cuddle.
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Paul Mariano was a criminal defense attorney, but has always had an interest in film. He retired from his attorney position in 2004 and started doing documentary films with his partner Kurt Norton and Gravitas Docufilms. Mariano’s first film, Also Ran, was about Mariano running for governor and the film provided a humorous look at the state of politics in California. Mariano’s most recent film release, These Amazing Shadows, was about why people love the movies.
Mariano read an article about audio dubbing that sparked his interest in the audio dubbing industry, and the financial impact that audio dubbing had on the film industry. Paul says American film studios make billions of dollars selling their films to other countries. These films rely on voice actor audio dubbers in other countries to dub American films into other languages.
Mariano wanted to find out what it’s like for these audio dubbing voice actors to be known as the voice of George Clooney in other countries. Paul says when people go to see American movies in other countries, they don’t hear the actual voice of actors such as George Clooney on the screen. They hear the voice of a local voice actor dubbing George Clooney’s lines into that country’s particular language.
Mariano and his crew met with all the different George Clooney voice actor audio dubbers all over the world. They traveled to Brazil, India, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy and more to find out more about these people who are doing the voice of George Clooney in other countries. So who are these people who pretend to be George Clooney?
Some of them are actors. One studied to be a lawyer. One writes children’s books. One guy who does the voice of George Clooney is actually an ER doctor. “The Brazilian George Clooney is an ER doctor in a major Rio De Janeiro hospital,” said Mariano.
It was too good to pass up. Here’s a guy who started his career on a TV show called ER, and we’ve got a guy who’s providing his voice in Brazil who is an ER doctor. – Paul Mariano
Mariano says even though these voice actors are known in their countries as the voice of George Clooney, they actually get very little respect from the film industry. Hollywood studios are making billions of dollars from selling American films overseas, but that money is not trickling down to the audio dubbers. “It’s basically staying in America at those studios,” said Mariano.
These guys often times don’t even get listed in the credits. So when you’re sitting there in a Turkish or Italian theater, you don’t see who the voice of George Clooney, or Sandra Bullock, or Julia Roberts might be. It’s not even listed. – Paul Mariano
Usually these voice actors aren’t even invited to the opening premiere when the film is released in their country, and even when they are they are usually shuffled to the side and forgotten about. “They’re not given much respect for doing what they do, which is provide the voices for these American films, which is very important,” says Paul.
But what about language translations, do the voice actors change the script of the original movie? Paul says, “When an American film goes abroad, the first thing they do is literally translate it into the language of that country. And then the second thing they do is adapt it for that particular country. There’s a lot of American slang phrases, or idioms, or jokes that would mean nothing to an Italian, or Turkish, or Indian audience. So they change it in order to make it more relevant and understandable. The other thing they will do is sometimes they’ll censor it a little bit. For example, if you go to a country like India or Turkey, the mores might be a little different from Italy or France. So when you use certain words or phrases, or talk about certain ideas, they might not go over so well in a country like Turkey or India, so they’ll modify or adapt them, so to speak.”
If you talk to the translators, the dubbers, the audio directors, they will say, ‘We try to be as honest and true to the original director and vision as possible.’ But if you go behind the scenes and talk to the voice actors, they’ll say, ‘Oh no, we change the words all the time.’
– Paul Mariano
Detlef Bierstedt used to be the “official” German George Clooney. He used to do all the ER episodes in Italian, and also was the voice dubber for many of George Clooney’s earlier films. Then Steven Soderbergh came along and started making the Ocean’s 11 films. “For whatever reason, Steven Soderbergh said he wanted a different voice for George Clooney. So he had a casting call, and he eventually hired Martin Umbach,” explains Paul. So Martin Umbach then became the German George Clooney.
It created an uproar in the country. People went online, they got on Facebook, they got their e-mails out, and they started taking sides: they either loved Martin Umbach or they hated him. But there was this huge debate as to who was the better George Clooney. Who should be the voice of George Clooney?
It would be like, for example, pick your favorite actor in the United States: Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Robert DeNiro. And you go to one of their movies and all of a sudden someone else’s voice is coming out of their face on the screen. Imagine how disoriented and discombobulated you would feel. That’s what happened in Germany.
Eventually the producers and directors went back to using Detlef Bierstedt as the German voice of George Clooney, but it was an interesting period, this battle that went on. People get very comfortable with a certain voice and they kind of tinkered with that. – Paul Mariano
It’s not common for American film directors to control who does the audio dubbing on other countries, but there are some American directors who do get involved in the voice dubbing.
Steven Spielberg is one, Steven Soderbergh is another. Quentin Tarantino is one. They become very involved with who the dubbing director is going to be and the voices who are chosen. But the vast majority of American films that go abroad, they’re just left to the local studios to decide. Normally there is a designated voice actor, like the Detlef Bierstedt. Someone who has been playing that person for years and years in all of their films. Like, for example, Samuel Labarthe is the French George Clooney. And he’s done all 16 of Clooney’s movies. So when people in France go to the films, they expect to hear Samuel Labarthe’s voice, and if they don’t they’re going to get uncomfortable with it, and they’re going to get angry.
There was a gentleman who works at NYU in the computer department, he teaches. He was originally born in Germany, and he came to the United States when he was about 19 years old. When he was growing up, one of his favorite actors was Woody Allen. And he talked about the Annie Hall film, and he talked about the voice of Woody Allen. Then he came to the United States and he heard the real Woody Allen and he said, ‘No, no, no. This guy’s got this high, squeaky, duck-like voice. That’s not Woody Allen.’ Because he was accustomed to this baritone, German voice doing Woody Allen. He laughed about it, but he said it was very off-putting. – Paul Mariano
There’s a lot of different voices from all over the world showcased in Being George Clooney, so you’ll get to hear a variety of different George Clooney voices. The film also touches on the cultural impact that American films have on other countries. “Everything from the incorporation of Starbucks and McDonald’s, to skinny jeans and watches, and also much more intense things. But it’s like, how do we impact other cultures in India, Turkey, France or wherever, based upon our movies?
There’s a great section where these middle-aged gentlemen talk about growing up in the ’50s and watching John Wayne westerns. We have a short segment of the John Wayne film The Searchers, which is a great Western film. And it’s John Wayne speaking French. And for an American audience such as myself, I get a kick out of it every time I watch it. To see John Wayne speaking French, or Robert DeNiro speaking German, or Clint Eastwood speaking Turkish. It’s just really fascinating. So I think it’ll be really fun. I think it’ll be fun, informative, and I think people will really enjoy the movie. – Paul Mariano
Our buddy Pong Fong went and lived in Russia for a while, and he brought back a copy of Bolshoy Lebowski, the Russian version of the Big Lebowski. Bolshoy Lebowski was done very well, but Pong Fong also went to see Fear an Loathing in Las Vegas while he was in Russia, and he said the voice dubbing was done by one single dude, and you could hear him turning the pages of the script during the film. “It’s funny, in Russia, up until very recently, when they did dubbing in Russian studios they would have one male voice, and one female voice,” said Paul.
Another topic in Being George Clooney is the financial impact of films, and how an American film that flopped at the box office can go abroad and make hundreds of millions of dollars. Mariano recommends sites like Rentrak or Variety for researching foreign markets’ box office statistics. “China is growing by leaps and bounds. North America is the main box office in the world. But pretty soon China will be,” says Paul.
IMDB estimates that Being George Clooney will pull in $250,000 from the box office, but Mariano expects to possibly make even more than that, which is extremely good for a documentary. “I don’t know who put that figure in there,” says Paul, “but we could actually do better than that. I think there’s a real international market for this film. I was surprised at how popular Hollywood films that are dubbed are in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, or in Italy, or France, or Turkey, or India. They are huge successes.”
Paul says, “We wanted to use one central figure, but Being George Clooney is about more than just George Clooney and George Clooney films. It’s about the voice dubbing industry and the people who populate that industry. How did they get motivated or drawn to it? Why do they do it? There’s a lot of families, especially in Italy, that just like you might be a ball player, a doctor, or a plumber here in the United States and then pass that on to your kids, in Italy, they pass on dubbing. So the father is a voice dubber and then becomes a dubbing director and he passes it on to his sons and daughters, and they become involved in the dubbing industry. So there’s a fascinating culture that surrounds these people.”
Paul says the voice dubbers take their craft very seriously. “As they say, ‘It’s not karaoke,’ it’s acting. And they take a lot of pride in what they are doing,” says Paul. We reference our Josh Robert Thompson interview where Josh talks about doing voice dubbing for all the main actors in Tropic Thunder. Josh Robert Thompson often jokes/complains that most people have no idea who he is. And true to form, Paul Mariano didn’t know who Josh Robert Thompson was. So I guess it really is true that voice actors are not appreciated enough for their amazing voice work!
In our recent American Stereotypes episode, Warren Rodwell said that people in other countries see a lot of films from America and then they associate America with gun culture. Paul says that to some degree that is very true.
American films that are most successful abroad, no matter what country you go to, are action films. Films where there are a lot of gun violence, shoot-em-up car chases, etcetera. Those are the ones that translate best into foreign cultures.
Paul Dergarabedian from Rentrak said, ‘The international language of blowing up stuff is sort of this international thing that everyone gets.’ So small films like Woody Allen films, thought-provoking films, documentaries, these don’t translate as well. There’s definitely a cultural impact. I don’t think they are necessarily becoming more violent, or becoming more gun-prone, but I think that those are the things that translate so well to their countries, so that’s why they’re so popular. – Paul Mariano
Mariano also made a film called These Amazing Shadows that you should definitely check out. It’s about film history and how lots of films were lost because people didn’t take care of the original film prints. You can watch These Amazing Shadows on Netflix or buy it on Amazon.
One of our friends’ shows on Radio Fubar is WFOD, which stands for Wheelbarrow Full Of Dicks. Mike from WFOD was telling us a story about how he booked an interview with Paul Mariano and how he was really pumped and really excited to have Mariano on the WFOD show. But then at the last minute Mariano cancelled the interview. Mike asked Paul if he would like to reschedule for another time, and Paul told Mike that he would basically be busy forever. Mike suspected Paul cancelled the interview because the name of the show had the word “dicks” in it.
We asked Paul about this incident with WFOD. Paul says it was just a misunderstanding, and that a lot of times he has assistants who answer press inquiries for him, so that’s probably who Mike talked to. Paul said he would love to go on the WFOD show for an interview, so we will do our best to make that happen.
Being George Clooney will be released in 2015. Go to BeingGeorgeClooney.com to watch the trailer and to learn more information about the film. You can learn more about Paul’s previous films at GravitasDocufilms.com
Nazis attack Chris Brake Show
At the top of the show, Chris apologizes for neglecting to plug in the hardwired Ethernet cord into the computer last episode. So we were broadcasting live via WiFi and it sounded a little choppy. If you are listening and you ever hear us broadcasting live all choppy-like, please call in or write in and let us know that we forgot to plug in the Ethernet cord again! Thank you.
We also apologize to Dave for accidentally thinking he was a racist. Dave was the first person we talked to on our Gang Stalking episode. There was another guy who commented on the Gang Stalking episode, and shared our Gang Stalking episode on his blog. We we went and checked out his blog and it was a bunch of anti-Jewish propaganda. So we commented back saying, “We don’t support anti-Jewish stuff,” and Dave accidentally commented on the thread. It sounded like Dave was defending the anti-Jewish dude, but it was all a giant misunderstanding. We went back & forth with Dave thinking he was an anti-Jewish, white power guy, and it turned into a giant debate. The conversation is still on our Gang Stalking episode. Get some popcorn & check it out.
But anyway, sorry about that Dave! It was all a HUGE misunderstanding. Thank you for being on our Gang Stalking episode, and again we are very sorry.
Outsider Art with Jessica Klein
We talk to Jessica Klein about about outsider art. We’ve been posting Chris Brake’s Daily Doodles every day recently, and Jessica said that Chris’s doodles look like outsider art. We ask Jessica to explain what outsider art is and why she thinks that Chris’s Daily Doodles can be classified as outsider art. We also talk about being in mental institution, self-harm, Trichotillomania, cutting, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
40 Oz. Pimp says he does not approve of people cutting themselves, and says he has a big heart and cares about people. 40 Oz. Pimp also talks about tattooing himself and people getting butt-hurt because of 40’s brash attitude. 40 Oz. Pimp doesn’t mean to be rude to people. 40 Oz. Pimp says he is actually a sensitive guy who likes to snuggle. 40 Oz. Pimp says he doesn’t have a problem with Warren Rodwell, who he had a small run-in with on our American Stereotypes episode.
40 Oz. Pimp tells us a story about giving trick-or-treaters dollar bills instead of candy, and fracturing his foot skateboarding in the kitchen the other night.
Check out more from Jessica Klein on her blog The Recovery of a Madwoman where she has some very interesting writing about personal stories from her past and incidents that happened to her while in a mental institution.