Interview with Ray Kenderdine
During my stay here in Shanghai, I have met a lot of interesting people who work in the entertainment industry. They do great things in the local market and as well big things in the international entertainment industry. From video games to feature films, these individuals are always hustling and networking in and around Shanghai, China.
One whom I wish to bring to light is Ray Kenderdine.
Ray is (as I mentioned before) a multi-talented entertainment specialist who can wear many hats when it comes to a film production. Ranging from Scriptwriting to Directing, Sound Mixing and Voice acting, he has been always finding a way to get involved.
As he bounces from video game to large scale commercial projects and so on, I wanted to catch up with him in a interview for everyone and let me get the ball started.
Thank you for taking the time out for our Stay in Character Spotlight! Please tell us a little about yourself for the readers.
Ray: I come from the US (though I don’t really identify as “American”). I’ve been in China since January of 2009. I am a happy gypsy, love (good) tattoos with powerful stories behind them, an observer, a questioner, a certified Dudeist Priest and I’ve known that I wanted to make movies since seeing The Empire Strikes Back as a child.
Q: What was your first few projects like in China? Did you find it different or challenging?
Ray: HAHA! Yes. My first two projects were feature films in the Mongolian language. I helped with script development on both as well as serving as the script supervisor because I have an anal attention to detail. I even pulled double duty on the first one serving as the script supervisor AND the Production Sound Mixer. And no, I don’t speak more than 10 words of Mongolian. When you have a memory like mine and that anal attention to detail, not speaking the language isn’t even a small challenge. But the real challenge came in the fact that the directors had never made a film (of any length) or commercial before. Just like me, this was their first rodeo so that resulted in a lot of trial and error and waiting around on set. There were story changes and that was a bit taxing on my script supervising duties, but I pulled it off with flying colors. The sound was pretty damn good too!
Q: Now that you are more established, what is your usual workload like in China?
Ray: Sporadic. I go for a few weeks without a gig and then I get a flood. I don’t mind the floods; it’s those dry spells that get me.
I am looking at doing more of my own work this year though so I hope that will change and I’ll get more gigs as a writer and director. I’ve directed one commercial, two short films and one music video. I am talking with some people about doing some more music videos and have 16 short scripts on my hard drive ready to film. Just gotta get those funds together. Want to invest in a project Tim?
Q: Haha, I wish! Funds are always a challenge. I watched your work and short films, some you directed personally, what work you prefer yourself to be involved in more?
Ray: I do production sound because I have a good ear for it and sound is something that I think is more important than picture. I know some DPs that are going to hate hearing that but it’s true. Sound conveys the emotions and the feeling. Watch a horror film with no sound and just subtitles. I promise there is almost no effect whatsoever.
That being said, I want to do more writing and directing. This is where my real passion lies. My head is in sound, my heart is in writing and directing.
Q: Do you have any advice for the new comers to the Entertainment Industry here in China?
Step back and watch. Take what you think you know and what you already know and put it in a drawer. It does not work like that out here. Above all else, just do you. I know folks that ask what kind of “China stories” I do. I tell them I don’t do “China” stories; just stories. I am not Chinese, it’s not my emotional, historical bag. I’m not going to try and make a story that appeals to Chinese people anymore than I’m going to try and make a story that appeals to black people, Japanese people, rich people, business people, military members or whatever other category you want to put in here. Stories, the really good ones, are just good no matter who makes them or who watches them.
I get bummed out when I hear people talking about all the things that divide us in to one category or another. It’s all bullshit and serves no one but those that like the divisiveness. I like to focus on the things that remind all of us of the connectivity of humanity. Your dirt isn’t better than anyone else’s dirt. Your skin color is as irrelevant to the ability to tell a compelling story that all people can identify with as your eye color or your height.
So come out here and find yourself, know yourself and make stories that are true to you and the other humans around you. (For the record, I’m not one of you. I’m just here to observe and report back to the masters on my home planet. One day you will all bow before us! JK! Or am I?)
Q: From my aspect as an animator, I find sound design and audio fascinating and we always discuss it, but let me ask my personal question that always burns me: What is a good microphone to use for vocal work in and out of studio here in Shanghai? What is your go to kit like?
Ray: Ah the age old question. I’m in a few voice actor groups on WeChat and a friend of mine, Rueben Marley, and I are always battling this question. There is no “best” mic. It varies with the acoustic treatment where you record and what you are using to record and mix with as well as what you are recording.
As an audio pro, I get burned when I here “professional” voice actors talk about using USB mics. I feel anyone who is serious about the quality of sound MUST drop the coin and get an XLR mic. When I record at home, I’m using a Sound Devices Mixpre 3 mixer/recorder and either my Røde NT5 cardioid or my Røde NTG3 shotgun. Now I get the fact that this is the kind of kit that a voice actor would never run. But getting a small field mixer/recorder and an XLR mic for under ¥5000 is easy enough and also that’s not a lot of cash if you’re a professional voice actor. Tascam and Zoom are both good options for the mixer/recorder and Røde (I’m a bit of a fan of theirs) for the mic will put you way the hell ahead of most of the posers out there. And FFS get some Japanese curtains from IKEA and glue some acoustic foam from Taobao to them. The whole setup would realistically cost less than ¥7000. Do this or just get another job and leave the work for the professionals willing to put in the investment to be professional.
Q: Also as promised to another voice actress I talked a lot with, let us share with the readers what it is like to be in the audio development and production profession in China. It feels like voice talent in China doesn’t have strong representation and I feel you can share first hand experience.
Ray: We don’t have strong representation. Unions are illegal and the agents WILL attempt to screw you at every turn. 97% of them will at least. I’m sure there are a few nice leeches agents out there.
The best thing we can all do is not undercut each other. I know a lot of folks that take shit pay because “it’s better than no pay”. Wrong. The English teacher looking for extra beer money that will do that job for 500 RMB (instead of the 4000RMB the professional should be getting) won’t be around long. The scabs are just that, scabs; i.e. they are not permanent and they fall away with little pressure.
We talk extensively in the chat groups about sticking to a bare minimum to build a safe net for ALL of us. Sometimes it works. We are open about what we would charge for jobs and no, you don’t charge an hourly rate. We discuss knowing what things to ask and what things to look out for. We try to do a good job of maintaining a community. Again, sometimes it works.
One of the biggest problems we have is obtaining voice samples. Studios, at least in Beijing, REFUSE to give you copies of your work because they can. So when people ask me for samples, it’s hard to explain to them that even though I’ve done over 70 TV shows, movies starring Sammo Hung (who I actually got to voice) and about a dozen cartoons, I can’t give them a voice sample because I don’t get them myself. I know a few voice actors that have show reels but only because they have inside sources that help them steal the material. It’s the only way voice actors in China get a show reel of their work and it suck. But that’s the lay of the land.
Ok thanks Ray and wish you the best of luck! I appreciate the time for the interview and will be in touch in Shanghai!
You can contact Ray via wechat “randomlykreated”
or by email “email@example.com
This article was provided by Stay in Character, the networking and event spotlight for the Entertainment Industry in China, (Film, Commercial, Television & More!) written by Ray Kenderdine and Timothy Giovanni, all images supplied are supporting of the artist in the field. All rights reserved.
Author : Timothy Giovanni