Harry Chase, I owe you an apology.
A few weeks ago, I was reviewing Lake Bell’s In A World and I noted that most on-screen actors easily transition into voice overs, but that it doesn’t happen the other way around. I wrote:
“Have you ever seen a full-time voice actor land a major role in a motion picture? I haven’t.”
Well, I was wrong.
Weeks later, I discovered the 2010 movie Hello Lonesome.
In it, real-life voice-over artist Harry Chase plays a… real-life voice-over artist. He’s Bill Soap, a cantankerous, lonely man, longing to make amends with his estranged daughter after his wife suddenly left him. His most regular contact with the outside world is an opera-loving delivery guy.
That’s not the synopsis of the entire movie, though. Bill is just one of the six characters who populate this picture, and there are three different and equally touching story lines.
Self-financed with a $50,000 budget and completed in only 15 days, the movie was written, produced, shot and directed by Adam Reid. Adam got his start writing and producing promos for Comedy Central including South Park and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is currently the Executive Creative Director of the production company Bodega Studios in New York City.
The New York Times called Hello Lonesome a…
“smart, poignant trilogy of interwoven vignettes” that “manages the considerable feat of creating six fully human characters who are quirky enough to transcend the stereotypes found in a typical indie film.”
On the movie website, Adam Reid writes:
“As a promo producer I have worked with a lot of voice over artists. I think a lot of us wish we could have that kind of life. From the outside, it’s a lazy persons paradise: Wake up, crawl to a sound proof booth in your basement, read out loud into a microphone and get paid handsomely for it.
Bill Soap is the center of our three-ring circus. We cast real life voice over Harry Chase and shot on location at his home. (It’s worth noting that Harry happens to be a wonderful husband and father, unlike his character, but does occasionally report to work in his underwear.)
Each story in Hello Lonesome is a parable. I wanted all of the characters to be very real and believable, and at the same time, this is a movie about how the smallest communication can change your life. In Bill’s case, that’s quite literal. He’s isolated himself and is now trapped in his own voice over booth.”
WHO IS HARRY CHASE
Chase has over 30 years experience in the business, and you’ll probably recognize him as the voice of Captain Morgan’s Rum. His work includes feature film trailers as well as spots for Quiznos, Sony Vaio, Disney on Broadway, CNN, CBS, Lifetime, Sci-Fi, and National Geographic.
Harry’s voice can also be heard in video games such as “Grand Theft Auto IV” and as Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar.” Harry won a “Best Voice Over” Golden Trailer Award for his work on the movie trailer for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” starring Brad Pitt.
THUMBS UP OR DOWN
Just like In A World is not a documentary about voice overs, Hello Lonesome tells stories that revolve around relationships. It’s an intimate movie about loss, loneliness and human connection.
It does take us inside Harry Chase’s sound booth. We watch him at work during several ISDN sessions, and it’s clear that he is in his element. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that his studio plays an important part in one of the plot lines.
Once he is outside of the voice actor’s comfort zone, Chase proves to be a natural. At no point did I get the feeling that he was acting (which is the highest compliment I can pay a colleague). In fact, he sounded more himself and less of a movie trailer man when he wasn’t using his shotgun mic, but was teaching the delivery man how to fire a rifle.
Reviewing the movie for The Huffington Post, Marshall Fine said:
“Shot simply, acted without fuss, Hello Lonesome is alternately funny, wistful, tragic and suspenseful. Reid does a lot with a little – and has crafted a small beauty of a film with his first try.”
I couldn’t have said it any better than that.
Hello Lonesome won the Best Ensemble Jury Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as a number of other awards. It is now available on iTunes and you can get the DVD through Netflix. Click here if you want to buy this brilliant movie.
Hats off to you, Harry Chase.
Now, can you please put your pants back on?