“New talent often has trouble entering the industry”
Sabrina Schnell of TV+Synchron Berlin is committed to creating more diversity
Life is not black and white; it’s colourful. However, these colours are not visible in the film industry in a particularly convincing way. Changes are underway. Actor Tyron Ricketts, for example, and his production company Panthertainment are making sure that more people of colour (PoC) are cast for small-screen film roles. Ufa Entertainment, too, has committed itself to achieving diversity goals by 2024. In Adlershof, it’s producer Sabrina Schnell of TV+Synchron Berlin GmbH who is pursuing a diversity agenda. She is critical of the community: “At dubbing studios, you always read the same names. You could almost talk of dynasties in the German dubbing business.” People with a so-called migration background are relatively rare.
When, in 2021, a client of TV+Synchron expressed the desire to use a non-binary actor for the German voice of a trans character in a cartoon series, the producer used the long lead time of six months to go on a truly inclusive search. In that same year, 185 actors went public as queer, transgender, intersex, or non-binary in the “#ActOut Manifesto”. Sabrina Schnell quickly wrote to the initiators and asked for their support. With success.
“In the end, a non-binary person supported us through the entire process, and we also used somebody from the Manifest signatories for the role in the series.”
Sabrina Schnell is in contact with many organisations and people who promote social diversity. Since the beginning of the year, the production studio has been hosting monthly young talent castings. “New talent often has trouble entering the industry. It is important to us that everyone gets the chance they deserve. While our focus is on diversity, we do not automatically cast queer persons for queer roles. Rather, we look for people who are sensitive and open-minded towards more diverse productions and whose voice matches that of the project.”
Today, more than six people will take a shot at voice acting for one hour The first to go is Matthias Pasler. He applied for jobs as a translator and a voice actor with the company. Sound recording supervisor Midal Gebser, cutter Steffi Wünschmann, and dubbing director Daniela Reidies briefly introduce themselves and quickly become “Midal, Steffi, and Daniela”, creating a relaxed and less formal atmosphere.
Matthias goes through the dialogue book of a cartoon with Daniela. It is divided into short sections of dialogue called takes. Daniela explains key terms to him: If the characters are not in the picture, they are “off-screen”. If a person is seen from behind or blurry, they are referred to as “soft focus”. If the speaking part is in the “on”, they are in the foreground. This is where lip-synching is essential. Midal plays the first scene in the original on a large screen. When the two beams on the screen meet, it’s time for Mathias to take action.
The rookie voice actor pays close attention to detail throughout the scene. What is the rhythm used by the original voice, and what intensity, what emotion? “Rhythmically, it was great,” Steffi praises Matthias’ first attempts. She knows that musicality is a plus when working in a dubbing studio. Then, they have a go at scenes from a live-action film. Take by take, Matthias works his way through the script. And he comes out of his shell a bit more with each one; his voice becoming “fuller”, taking up more space, and developing more of a presence.
After a round of feedback at the end, Matthias’ casting is complete. He seems relieved. “This was a new and unfamiliar experience for me. I was very nervous, but it was great how I was taken by the hand. It was nice. Like riding a bike with training wheels.” Matthias smiles happily.
Susanne Gietl for Adlershof Journal