Today I have another interview connected to the Judge Minty fan film by Steve Sterlaccini. Based on the world of Judge Dredd from the British anthology comic 2000ADpublished by Rebellion. You can read my earlier spoiler free review or spoiler light review and at the end of this article are links to other interviews related to this film.
The film was released on You Tube during the early hours of Monday 6th May after six months of touring Film Festivals and Comic Cons throughout Britain, Europe and USA. As of writing the video had been viewed 50,186 times.
This time it is the voice of Judge Dredd, Jared Butler. The meat-suit he is speaking for is Greg Staples one of the many artists who draws Judge Dredd.
Semple: How did you become involved in this project?
Jared: A long time ago, I was online and saw one of the prototype uniforms Dan had put together. It got me really excited for the project and, within a few hours, I had contacted Dan, Steven, and Steve to let them know I was a longtime Dredd fan, and a working voice-over actor here in Hollywood. I said something like “I know you’re shooting in the UK, but you ARE planning to have American accents for your movie, aren’t you?”. I’m not sure they had even thought that far ahead yet, but they agreed it would be a good idea and promised to get in touch once it was time to do the audio.
Semple: Had you read any Judge Dredd before taking the role? If so did you know who Judge Minty was?
Jared: I read a lot of Dredd back when I was a kid in the 80s. I started with the Eagle Comics reprints since the magazine was almost impossible to get here in the states at that time. At that time, Dredd was kind of a cool, little-known British import. Then the Stallone movie came along and sort of ruined things for a little while. But now, with the new Dredd movie and with Minty, Dredd is back to being as cool as ever. As for the original Minty comic story, I didn’t really remember it and had to go back and re-read it (if I’d ever actually read it at all). I always liked the concept of the Long Walk though.
Semple: Did you have any particular Directional guide on the voice for Dredd or was it more your own interpretation?
Jared: Well, I should say that originally, i was only going to do some background judge radio chatter, so when they asked me to voice Dredd it was kind of a small dream come true. Hm… I wonder if they told Greg Staples he was going to be dubbed? Kind of a David Prowse / James Earl Jones situation… Anyway, Steven and I talked a lot about the voice and I sent over several different recorded versions. We wanted him to sound like what many people have in their minds for Dredd, but we didn’t want it to be too cartoony.
We actually changed the voice about 6 months after I recorded it. The Dredd 3D movie had come out and we’d seen that Karl Urban was doing kind of a Clint Eastwood thing so we felt like we should head in that direction a bit. We didn’t want to do an imitation of Karl’s voice, but we did add just a touch more of Eastwood into the final Dredd voice for Minty.
Semple: How do you approach voicing a character that is seen on screen? Do you look at the images first to get a feel for the character?
Jared: Yes, images help a lot. Of course, with Dredd, I’ve got years of knowledge of who the character is (or who I think he is) to help with that. I was fortunate to see some VERY early cuts of Minty in order to work on the voice stuff. The biggest challenge to doing a character that is onscreen is getting the lip synch correct. But the guys really helped me with that in the editing. I also provided the voice for the weapons dealer who shoots Minty, but that didn’t involve too much synch since he’s so far away when we first see him.
Semple: I assume characters that are off screen are in some way easier as you have more artistic license, am I right?
Jared: Yes, those are fun to play with. But it’s nice to have a general idea what a character looks like so that you have a place to start building a voice from. A character who appears onscreen but doesn’t have a mouth moving (head turned away from camera, or a mask, like the mutants) is kind of ideal.
Semple: Which other voices in the film are yours?
Jared: A lot. I’m hoping that I varied my voice enough for most viewers not to notice, at least on the first viewing. Other than Dredd and the weapons dealer, I did some of the mutants, a lot of judge radio chatter, some background advertising (like the Otto Sump ad heard in the beginning, and the Aggro Dome ad heard at the end), the “halt!” announcement that Minty hears when he approaches Fairville, and the main bad guy Aquila (he only has one line).
Semple: I assume the radio chatter was scripted, did you put in any ad-libs?
Jared: The scripts on the ads and the radio chatter were great. Really fun, funny, and a lot of nuggets in there for hardcore 2000ad fans. The VO crew all agreed that they were not only fun to record, but a great workout for trying different VO skills. We didn’t do a lot in the way of ad-libs, but I scripted a couple of my own MC1 adverts and got to throw in a judge name or two for friends.
Semple: How many voice actors were there in your team?
Jared: There were six of us here in the US (there were also one or two Like Domino Barbeau that the Steves recorded over in the UK, but I don’t know much about that). Five of us are working voiceover pros here in the Los Angeles area and one is a buddy of mine from New Jersey who does a bit of acting and is a Dredd fanatic, Jim “The Tank” Dorsey. Besides Jim and myself, it was Fryda Wolff, Mark Engelhardt, Rocco Rosanio, and Michael Mohrhardt. Fryda probably had the most lines after me, she’s the Fairville town announcer as well as one of the radio dispatchers, she also sang jingles for ads, and even did some of the male mutant voices thanks to some clever audio processing.
My sound engineer buddy Brad Braithwaite did some of the recording here in Los Angeles. Everything was recorded on very high end audio gear and then, in the case of the judge radio chatter, degraded until it sounded bad enough that it could be coming out of a small Lawmaster speaker!
Semple: Video out takes are apparently quite sparse, not counting re-shoots. Are there any audio out-takes?
Jared: YES! Steven wrote up more radio chatter and fake ads than we could possibly use in the movie. They’re really cool and there is actually a plan in the works for sharing that material with everyone at a later date. I think my fellow voice actors really did some great work on this stuff. We didn’t approach it like it was “just” a fan film. We saw what the other members of the team were doing in the UK and felt like we Yanks had to go 100% just to live up to the rest of the production.
Semple: How have you found the reaction of fans of Judge Dredd?
Jared: The reaction to the movie has been pretty much what I expected from the fans – overwhelmingly positive. Not because of anything I did, but because of all of the hard work the guys in the UK did to make it look amazing. What excites me is the reaction the movie has been getting from non-fans. They seem to love it too.
Semple: Would you like to portray Dredd again, whether fan film, cartoon, or blockbuster?
Jared: I would portray Dredd in any way, shape, or form that someone asked me to. I’ll probably do it even if they don’t ask me to. In fact, I am responding to all of these questions in a Dredd voice. You just can’t hear it.
Jared: Too many to list. But as far as 2000AD goes, I think an animated D.R and Quinch would be really cool. I’d love to play Quinch. (Semple: the purple guy in the picture on the left, would be a great cartoon!)
Semple: How long have you been doing voice-over?
Jared: I’ve been in voice-over for about seven years. I’ve done TV shows, movies, commercials, video games, you name it.
Semple: Have you voiced any other characters we would know?
Jared: Some people know me from my work as Johnny Depp’s voice double. I do a lot of work for Disney as the voice of Captain Jack Sparrow (video games, theme park attractions, toys). I also do Johnny’s other characters when he’s not available, like The Mad Hatter, Rango, and a certain upcoming character that’s still confidential.
Semple: Is there a question that you haven’t been asked yet that you think needs answering?
Jared: Well, not a question, but a comment: As someone who does voices for a living, I want to say that Edmund Dehn did an excellent American accent!