**Disney provided an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this event, all opinions are 100% my own **
While at the amazing Disney Toon Studios we got the chance to sit down and chat with, Raymond Persi, who Story Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios and he is also the voice of “Flash” in Zootopia. Raymond Persi grew up in hills California right above DisneyToon Studios, growing up his dream was to one day work there and he eventually got to. Raymond is currently a story artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios, he has worked on Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen, and then the two shorts Get a Horse and Feast. Raymond is also a voice for quite a few characters from Disney films and shorts.
Raymond told us that one of the great things about working for Disney is that when the films are being made, they will get to do the “rough versions of them first, and sometimes we don't know who's going to be cast yet, or we don't even know if that character will stay in past one screening of the film. So they bring a lot of the different people in the studio to do scratch voices. It's called just a temporary voice, just to tell the story. And every now and then, we keep some of those voices in”.
Some of Raymond’s test “scratch” voices made it into the films, including, Gene, the little jerk from Wreck It Ralph, and the Zombie, along with the little jerky horn from the short Get A Horse. On Frozen, he got to play a guy who, had one line, but his wife called after he said, Come on. Hurry up, Persi. Raymond thought that was pretty cool because that's was his name.
For Zootopia, Raymond was brought in to do scratch for Flash. According to Raymond Persi “normally you think, you're going to do the voice of a sloth, you think, I'll talk slowly. But that's not what they wanted. They said NO... he talks normal. He just has spaces in between the words. So we recorded for like half an hour or so, and they coached me. They showed me what they wanted. We read the lines, scene didn't change too much because after that one recording, that's what they used in the film. I think my voice just sounded stupid enough that it worked”. That is such a cool thing to just test out your voice and then be told you are going to be the permanent voice of the character, that must have been such a surprise.
Did they have an actor in mind for that part before they had Raymond Persi read for it? “I don't think so. I think it was a character they wanted to try out. It was an idea for a scene, you know, they were just trying to think of funny locations and animals like animals in a nudist colony, that's funny. Sloths running the DMV, that's funny. A guy who's like a mafia king pin, but he's a tiny little shrew. I think they hadn't thought about it yet, and then that one just worked for them”.
Every time I watch that scene, with Flash at the DMV it is the same feeling I get when somebody takes their nails and scratches it on the chalk board. When you're acting and you're doing the voice for it, do you feel that frustration? According to Raymond Persi, “My goal when I did that scene was to make you feel like nails on a chalk board. Thank you so much for letting me know that I did it right”. It is a little unnerving listening to Flash talk, I too like Judy want to finish his sentences, but that is what makes the character and the scene great. For me this scene stole the movie!
When Raymond recorded, for Flash did he change his voice at all? Or did he just speak how he normally speaks? Raymond Persi said “You force it a little bit. That's one of the interesting things about voice acting is you don't have your hands, you don't have your face, you don't have your body to act with. So it all has to come out of your voice. You have to focus all the characterization in the voice to make it work, that's kind of a fun challenge”.
After chatting with Raymond, we got to interview Flash in person! This on camera interview gave me the chance to ask Flash anything I wanted, and I started with a simple question of “Do you have any hobbies?” Well perhaps that was not that simple of a question? Check out the hilarious interview clip below:
You know I don’t think I ever got my answer from Flash? Hmm… But it was great talking to Raymond and finding more about “scratch” voices and the work he has done. Be sure to pick up a copy of Zootopia the dvd and Blu-ray are in stores everywhere tomorrow!
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Preorder Zootopia online or purchase a store near you on 6/7!
Zootopia is available on Blu-ray and DVD on June 7th!
Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .