At school I played Bugsy in Bugsy Malone (it was an all girls school…) and doing this voice over job took me back – I love this accent.
The job was for Lucas Machowski a London-based Polish film director who has lived and worked in NYC. The projects (housing estates) of Staten Island have a particular personal resonance for Lucas and he’s felt compelled to make this film, “Sketches of the Underground”. In his words: “the legendary neighbourhood of the hip-hop culture, home of the Wu-Tang Clan but also forgotten by everyone and a dangerous place”. Lucas is making a black and white film not exactly within but inspired by the city symphony film genre. City symphonies give an impression of a city’s life using music. Lucas is using music to narrate his film but is also adding “voices of the underground”.
Separated from the rest of New York by New York Bay, Staten Island is the least populated of the five New York Boroughs and described by its inhabitants as forgotten and neglected by the State. The population is Italian, Irish, African American, American Indian, Russian, Polish, Greek, Asian and the list goes on. All these different cultures in an area that can seem empty because of the small number of people living there relative to its size. There are big block apartments and red brick buildings. There is also the famous Staten Island ferry, which features on an episode of Sex and The City (for anyone interested). I’m a city girl and I am constantly inspired by buildings and lonely areas around London amidst all the city’s heaving chatter – I can see and understand Lucas’ attraction to Staten Island. What I have seen of Sketches so far is beautiful. There will be other voices speaking in French, Spanish and Chinese plus an original music score composed specially for Sketches by a French group “Passive Manipulation” and song by a NYC hip-hop artist, “Marvalous”.
My character (I’ve called her Dana) is a young girl writing a diary-entry/poem to her home town, Staten Island. The film clip accompanying the voice over shows Dana’s surroundings and her loneliness. Dana has a strong bond with the city and sometimes feels like it is her only friend or like a parent to her. She is a sensitive, vulnerable soul with a great heart and strength to fight for what she believes in.
Voice clip and film on the way, in the meantime here are some stills of me at work in rehearsals with Lucas and then recording Dana’s voice. Yes there is a plastic box propping up the microphone and yes that is a necessary component of the professional experience: