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Voice Actor Reveal: Thetis!

Thrilled to announce that Max Herzfeld will be joining our lovely & talented cast as Thetis! This is the first announcement from? Of? Our most recent open casting call. And I got things to say so let's just jump on into it. Max has been a long time support of the project checking in from time to time, liking posts, auditioning for one off casting calls I do every now and again. And I knew it was only a matter of time until there was a character that would be a good fit for them. Max is a very talented actor who's very accomplished so it was really a no brainer. From the moment I revealed Thetis Max was banging on my door asking to audition for him so this really has been a long time coming. I'd say Thetis was maybe the second most auditioned for character in the masculine voice range? Everyone more or less stuck around in the same voice print? Is that the phrase? So it wasn't a question of like who fit the most in that regard, most of the auditions would have been suitable. I think for me partially what narrowed down that criteria was the fact that Thetis was based off my best friend so there was a sort of indiscernible sound range that the actor had to be in. Some people while their voice would work just didn't convey the vibe of the character, a few were way off giving him more of a monster voice. Which side bar virtually none of these characters should sound like monsters speaking, they should sound like humans, doing otherwise for most goes against a core tenant of PSA. Anyways, so that was hurdle one, Thetis kind of needed to be... unassuming in his voice, he couldn't really stand out. He had to be mellow, not a stoner, but mellow like the surface of a lake in the early mornings of spring, still, subtle. The other challenge actors would face is that Thetis is reserved when he's sad or reflective it's not in bold you know? It's in italics. But he's fun his events are fun events he's upbeat he laughs, and that I think is another hurdle, I've found laughter seems to be make it or break it for an actor, anger is easy to fake, I'd say then comes sorrow, and lastly the hardest is laughter, joy? Easy, laughter is where people seem to faulter. If someone couldn't sell the laughter it was basically an immediate "no" because Thetis laughs, but it's not a standard ha, ha, ha! It's a ha, ha, ha. Or a ha, ha, heh, heh, heh. If that makes sense it's almost musical, it's varied, versatile. So those to me were the hurdles/challenges of the role. Thetis is also a small role in terms of lines so that also could be considered an obstacle too, there's not a lot of dialogue to make this character feel whole so an actor really has to bring their best to it to add that subtly and life to him. I know, I know I'm veering off of Max, but we're getting back to him I promise. My point is even with all that you'll still end up at the end of the process with a handful of actors and then you gotta make a choice. This is where my whole "tell me why you want to voice this character comes in." Because ultimately all actors hit a point where they're equals in talent, you can argue about accolades and ect, but those really don't- for me answer the question of "why are you right for this role?" So it always goes back to the why. So a question that some people or- a fair chunk straight up ignore or meekly answer because they don't care (which hey fine I get it this a job for you, you got other auditions to submit) becomes the most important part of the audition. And I think in this instance was integral to me casting Max as Thetis (see told you I'd bring it back around). Immediately his performance did capture me he really nailed it, but he was also like the first one I listened to which means that impression has to be really, really good to stick with you once you're like 30 submissions deep. And for me it wasn't just that Max did a great performance it was also the story he shared as to why he chose to audition for Thetis why he connected with the character that kept me going back. Because it was like, "well yeah this person is also good, and even Canadian, but you can hear Max's own life experiences coming through in that last line which I keep replaying over and over." The last line in question being "besides where would I go? Back to the lake?" Nobody played it like Max did and that's because I don't believe anybody honestly put themselves in Thetis' shoes. I knew when putting the call for him together that this would be the make or break line and it really was. Everyone, and I do mean everyone played it more like Thetis was scoffing at the idea, or- was cavalier, or apathetic to the idea. Max is the only one who tied in the subtly that there was nothing for him back home and that if anything he dreaded having to go back there. PSA is Thetis' way out of living the rest of his life as an urban legend, a creature of the lake nothing more. And Max's own life experiences really made that line resonate with me he took what normally could be and maybe initially was written as a sort of throw away comment and made it important. He took that line and allowed it to reflect the complexity of the character, so really unfortunately for everyone once I heard Max's submission it was over. From that point on I was only listening to auditions to be respectful of the other candidates and aside from only one other submission who was from Canada uh- I didn't really even consider them. And that's not a knock against them it's a testament to Max and his process, his ability, and him being open and taking the time to tell me why. Heck his audition was so good, I'm not even writing this announcement based on anything else! I haven't even heard a single line for the actual game yet! And to be honest I don't know that they would change what I had to say in regards to as why I chose him. Because again I would keep coming back to that moment and how impactful that delivery was for me. There's so many complexities and moving parts in this process you really can't understate the importance of nailing that audition, and the casting for this character really reinforced my idea of asking VAs to tell me why they want a role. There are times in the process I kind of ask myself, "should I really be asking them to do this? It feels kind of self-aggrandizing" but then you have these instances and it's like, "no that was so integral to the process!" I don't know what it's like to be an actor on the other side. And I never expect nor ask an actor to care as much as I do, it'd be unfair. But I think one thing I'd maybe say to them is that it does matter. I think Max and Thetis are proof of that. Max sticks in my mind because I remember his story even if I hadn't had cast him I would have remembered him. I can't remember any of the others who auditioned outside the ones I had worked with before. Because no one shared that strong connection with the character. So many e-mails were, "I feel my voice fits, or I can understand how they feel." A few more had closer connections like, "I sing." But only one was like, "I understand his pain." And that's powerful. That lingers. Because it's easy to look at a character like Marvel's Loki and be like, "I can relate to the mischievous side." Or being like, "I know what it's like to be misunderstood." It's a whole other thing to be like, "I know what it's like to constantly seek the validation of your father, to be adopted and never feel like you belong and watch as your bother coasts by getting along with the one man you wish would just give you the tiniest amount of respect." That's the kind of thing that sticks with you and really shows and actor gets your character, they know that character not you, you just created them, they're going to tell you who they really are. That's exciting because it pushes that character further from me and makes them more original. And that ties into one of the core aspects of PSA, once this thing is out I don't own these characters (not you know spiritually or whatever) my job is done I gave you the core of who they are the definitive bits, but the rest is up the person who interacts with the media. For as much as I put in these characters really don't- exist. Until the VA comes in and validates, or reinterprets what I've done and tells me what's definitive. Anyways, I'm rambling. But I think that- or hope that really hammers home why Max was the only choice. I won't share the details of his story, but his story is 100% the determining factor. Crap, my whole point was to say, "actors these characters matter, to you they may be just roles, but to us creators these are real living people." If you look at them with that in mind I like to think your craft will benefit, but what do I know, again I'm just a wordsmith. So- that's it I'll cut it here, I hope that was a decent insight, I hope I conveyed Max's talents accurately. And for those who auditioned for Thetis I hope none of my words come off as an attack upon your performances or character. It's never my intention to break down those who weren't cast, but to as honestly and truthfully as possible explain why I cast who I did. Now, without any further adieu Max Herzfeld welcome to Pleasant Sparkle Academy!

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