Interview with Patrick Seitz!

NB: Some of my earliest blogs no longer have their accompanying images but enjoy the copy!

You might remember a commemorative post I wrote for the blog’s first birthday back in August 2012, where I said one of my goals for the next year was to interview some anime and video game voiceover actors. Well, guess what? Here’s a special interview with Patrick Seitz!

If you’re big on your anime and video games, you might have already heard the name Patrick Seitz before. For those of you who don’t actually know what voiceover actor is (aka my mum!), the long and short of it is that they are the people behind animated characters. Patrick is one of my personal favourites and 90% of this due to the fact that he voices Motochika Chosokabe from the Sengoku Basara series. He is also behind the voices of Franky from One Piece, Sky High from Tiger and Bunny, Kenpachi Zaraki from Bleach, Laxus Dreyar from Fairy Tail, Germany from Axis Powers: Hetalia, Agni from Black Butler, Sloth from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Simon Brezhnev from Durarara!!!

OK, that list is extensive enough. You can check out Patrick’s website for a complete and less-rambling list of all the characters he’s voiced.

Here are two clips from Hetalia and Sengoku Basara to start you off:

I feel I should also point out that Patrick is clearly amazing because he replied to my email! Anyway, that’s enough from me for one day…

First things first, please introduce yourself!

Hey, guys! My name is Patrick Seitz, and I’ve been lucky enough to work as a voiceover (VO) actor, script-adapted and ADR director for about 13 years now. Most of the work I’ve done has been in the sphere of anime and video games, and I absolutely love my job!

When was your ‘big break’ in voice acting? What did you do before then?

I don’t know if it was as exciting as an actual “big break,” but the definite turning point was back in 2003 or thereabouts, when I got the offer from New Generation Pictures to adapt and direct all 24 episodes of a zany T&A show called Girls Bravo (which has lots of skin but even more heart, if that makes any sense?). Up until then, I was doing a bit of voiceover work now and then, but much of my time over the last three years had been spent teaching English at my old high school when I was barely older than my seniors, and then working on my screenwriting Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Once the adapting/directing offer came in, I immediately moved back out to Los Angeles and got started on that. I ended up spending a year and a half directing two shows (Girls Bravo and Kamichu), and by then had forged enough of a connection with the other folks in the business to start working for a variety of studios. Thankfully, I’ve been lucky enough to keep some combination of those three jobs as my “day job” ever since.

Is voice acting really as glamorous as it sounds, or is there really a lot of hard work behind it?

Voice acting really isn’t all that glamorous, at the heart of it. It’s a lot of fun, but it can be a lot of work–and at the end of the day, unless you’re one of the luminaries of the industry at the very top of the heap, no one knows who you are. You’re not going to get stopped in the grocery store, which is fine by me. And there are days when you go in for a recording session and you’re literally back in your car twenty minutes later because there was that little that needed to recording. But then there are the days where you’re screaming like a maniac for four hours, and when you get home you’re ready to fall over and sleep for the rest of the day. It’s a great job, but it’s not steady by any degree. You have great weeks and months, and slow weeks and months.

What is the voice acting community really like? Do you get together outside of work?

The voice acting community is small, compared to the on-camera community, and the anime VO community is even smaller than that. Folks get together outside of work less than one might assume. With everybody having a different work schedule, and with that schedule often changing at the last minute, it’s hard to carve out a specific spot in your calendar to do something without someone having to drop out or postpone. There are VO friends of mine whom I get to spend more time with at conventions across the country than in Los Angeles, which is something we laugh about sometimes.

Which characters have you enjoyed voicing the most? Are you a ‘fan’ of any of the series you worked on?

Oh, man…I don’t know if I can narrow it down! I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had the chance to voice some very interesting characters over the last decade and change. Grimmer from Monster, Koshiro from Koi Kaze, Motochika from Sengoku Basara… there’ve been so many gems., and I’ve grown to be a fan of the series I’ve worked on. I’m not usually familiar with them before we start working on them, but over the course of voicing a character (and/or writing scripts and/or directing the VO), some shows really grow on you. The three I’ve listed above are definitely examples of those, but I could name so many more. Steins;Gate, for example, or Summer Wars or Tiger & Bunny. I’m not giving the medium a free pass (you’re going to have gems and duds alike in whatever genre you’re talking about), but there’s a heck of a lot of good anime out there.

My friends and I love your portrayal of Chosokabe Motochika in the Sengoku Basara series! Do you have a preference for voicing more manly characters?

I don’t know if I’d call it a “preference,” but I realize that where my voice naturally sits lends itself well to the beefier, more macho guys. That said, it’s nice getting to voice a variety of voice-types. I wouldn’t want to do the manly voice all the time, ideally, but hey… if I’m working steadily, I can’t really complain, right?

How do you come up with the voices for your characters?

It’s a collaborative process with the voiceover director. We watch a scene or two with the character, taking into account how he acts and what we think will sound right in English. We refer to the Japanese voice, too, to a certain extent- though our priority in dubbing something is how it’ll play to the English ear, not trying to emulate the Japanese. We play around with a few lines until we come up with a voice we like, the engineer usually labels that take as a file that we can refer back to at recording sessions down the road as a sample, and we forge ahead from there. Most of the time, you’re modifying a voice you’ve used before to a certain degree; most characters are not so unusual to merit “reinventing the wheel,” so to speak.

Do you prefer voice acting or voice directing?

I love them both! Voice acting is nice because you go in, you put all of your focus into one character, and then you leave. Directing is rewarding in that you’re bringing all the elements together, and it’s very gratifying when that process bears fruit, but it’s all on you. When I’m directing, I never completely stop thinking about the project until it’s finished. In the case of Monster, which took a year and a half to complete, that’s a long time to have deadlines and casting questions and script revising and whatnot rattling around in the back of your head.

What advice would you give to young people who are interested in voice acting, or acting in general?

If you want to be a voice actor, make sure you actually enjoy acting. Do some theater! I’m not saying they’re the same beast (because they’re not), but if you don’t enjoy the process of acting in real-time with other people, you’re probably not going to enjoy (or be particularly suited for) acting in a tiny dark room all by your lonesome. Also, and this holds true for anybody considering a career in the arts, realize that the thing you love doesn’t need to be the thing that pays your rent. It’s glorious when it can be, and I realize how stupidly lucky I am to be able to kill two birds with one stone. But I had an epiphany when I was living in Los Angeles the first time, right out of college and clueless as to how to proceed. I realized that I was happier living in my hometown and getting to do community theatre than I was living in Los Angeles and not doing any acting. It was only after I’d had that realization and returned home to re-establish a life that nourished me that my ship finally came in…but even if it never had, that would have been okay. I had a job, and I had acting. Rent was paid, soul was fed, all was good.

What’s the strangest thing a fan has said or given to you?

I had this one very spirited little fan who wanted me to laugh like Mickey Mouse because, heaven help me, “It turned her on.” I belted out a few obligatory chuckles and then made a quick escape.

Sophie: I…. ummm… WHAT?

Are you attending any anime or video game conventions in 2013? Would you ever make an appearance at a UK convention?

I’m attending a few conventions in 2013, but so far, my schedule isn’t packed. I’m trying not to book myself too far ahead of time, so that I’m not stuck having to be two places at once if something awesome comes up, work-wise. That said, I really enjoy conventions, and can’t wait to meet more of the anime fans. Also, I’ve never been to a UK convention, but I’d be very interested in attending one if the offer was ever made!

An absolute massive thank you to Patrick for letting me interview him! If you’re a VO fan or are now starting to think ‘hmm, I had no idea what a VO was but clearly they are amazing and I need to start watching more anime/playing more video games’, you can check out Patrick Seitz’s official website, like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter!

Next week… The MCM Midlands Comic Con video is ready to go on Youtube, so I’ll be sharing it with you on here too! I know I said it would take me a few weeks to get round to editing it but… well, I had a free evening, alright?

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