By Piya Sinha-Roy
PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - In a world where men rule the voice-over industry, actress Lake Bell brings a tale of women versus men and old versus new in her directorial debut comedy.
"In A World," which premiered at the Sundance Film festival this week, follows voice-over artist Carol (Bell) attempting to follow in the daunting footsteps of her father (Fred Melamed), a famous and respected voice who is struggling to stay relevant as new talent emerges.
Written and directed by Bell, 33, who is best known for supporting roles in movies such as "No Strings Attached" and "What Happens in Vegas," "In A World" is a quirky comedy with an unlikely heroine.
Bell talked to Reuters about the struggles of being in the voice-over world, her disdain for women with "sexy baby" voices, and what her superhero power would be.
Q: What drew you to the voice-over world for your film?
A: "I always envisioned that I was going to be one of the great voice-over artists. I thought I was going to kill it when I got to Hollywood. Since I was a kid, I loved accents, I collected them ... I would manipulate my voice to make people laugh all the time. I liked this idea of being a blind voice - you could be any ethnicity, you could be from any country, you could be any race. I thought it was so cool that you wouldn't be judged by who you are."
Q: Your character, Carol, has to struggle with being a woman trying to break into the male-dominated world. Is that echoing the real-life industry?
A: "I started getting into the idea of the omniscient voice, the people who announce and tell you what to buy or how you should think about things, they help form your opinions. These random people from the sky, they always were male, and I thought it was an interesting subject to attack because why aren't there any ladies? What are we, not omniscient? Are we not God?"
Q: How much of your own career struggles are reflected in Carol's story?
A: "What's interesting about Carol's message is that she is a woman trying to find her voice, literally and also figuratively. As a filmmaker, I'm definitely embarking on this really beautiful journey of finding what my comedic voice is or what my filmic voice is.
"I'm lucky enough to have friends who took a chance on me and be in this film with me and respect me enough to let me direct them to do something different than maybe they've ever done before. There's definitely parallels in feeling like I'm finding my own voice."
Q: Was this an autobiographical film for you?
A: "It's not anymore. Draft one is autobiographical, but by draft 25, it's something else after so many rewrites, it takes on its own life. That's what's so cool about writing, you never know where it's going to lead. I often like to write when I'm acting in something else because then I can show up and be part of the machine and be around creative people, and then come home and go off into different worlds in my head."
Q: What do you want people to take away from watching this?
A: "I would hope in a fantasy world that the message is, people would somehow become aware of their own voice and respect it, because it's a privilege. Women are plagued by the "sexy baby" vocal virus that is taken on, that is rampant in this nation. I just think that people should take themselves more seriously and give themselves a little more credit."
Q: Do you have a dream role you'd like to play?
A: "The dream role is that I'm a superhero. I want to be a superhero ... I want to have a superhero outfit because I like dressing up a lot. That would be fun."
Q: What would your superhero power be?
A: "Right now, it'd be quelling the 'sexy baby' (voices) of the world and extinguishing them."
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant and Christopher Wilson)