Interviews: Elizabeth Carol Savenkoff (2/99)
Many probably know Elizabeth Carol Savenkoff only from her Beast Wars Transformers "Predacon computer" role. But Ms. Savenkoff actually has quite a number of credits under her belt including live action work (Addam's Family, Days of Our Lives, Lightning Force, The Commish, The Marshall and more!) and animated work (G.I. Joe, Street Fighter, Air Canada, Lady Lovely Locks). Ms. Savenkoff was kind enough to grant bwtf.com a brief interview.
1. What type of education would you recommend for potential voice actors?
Voice over acting as opposed to film acting is a more exotic profession and certainly not for everyone. The most profound technical change is that on film your facial expressions must be minimal but when taping your voice only, the body is moving as the actor speaks. Bottom line is, voice over acting is describing the action so if your character is being chased down the street and is suddenly stopped by a truck and is bouncing off it then the actor actually moves accordingly. You become "bigger than life" similar to stage acting but not the same.
Having said that, it's imperative that an "v/o actor-to-be" enroll in as many acting classes that he/she can afford. Shop around and ask working actors where they studied, look for the most recognized, reputable classes in your area. It's a highly competitive business, so the better the education the better your chances at success. I highly recommend both acting classes: one geared for voice overs only and the other film/tv. Even though the actor may just want to remain in cartoons, you must be able to "create" your own spirit and energy and honesty to your animated drawing. You have to know what the subtext is just as in film acting. In terms of discipline, you must be trained to stay focused. Like any other profession you take it seriously. There's fun to be had but not without skills.
2. Who is your favorite character on Beast Wars?
I've always been fond of Megatron...with his smooth arrogance and absolute ego, impatience, unconditional thirst to rule...great sense of humor....but I see Black Arachnia with similar cockiness...she exquisitely hides her human-ness...while Optimus is the ultimate grounding force...the rational...yet sensibly provides the Father figure...the unusual intelligence of Rhinox is expressed in such kindness....Cheetor has matured considerably with all keeness intact...the sweetness of Rat Trap is most amusing and could not imagine the show without his personality...I enjoy the timber of Depth Charge...he's a great addition....and Silverbolt speaks from the heart...you know, I could go on and on. The entire cast is so beautifully put together....extremely well thought out in terms of "character analysis" and naturally, the Pred Computer is Megatron's right arm...keeping him up to speed and in control. We should all be so lucky to have a talking computer.
You ask if I'm surprised by the fan reaction...well after the above paragraph I'm surprised there are not more!
3. What else do you do on the show?
I was asked to cast Beast Wars right from the first season. Three years later, I'm just as honored to be on board as a casting director. Beast Wars is perhaps my personal favorite for several reasons. The comraderie between actors, directors, producers, and writers is as sacred today as in 1996. The spirit is high and in it a great reverence pervades the team. We rarely see the actual artists but without their magic we wouldn't exist. It is such a pleasure to be a part of this show.
I have also been assistant director to just the best voice over director in the U.S. and that of course is Sue Blu. I have had the honor to be beside her in every show rehearsal and recording. Suffice it to say, this is the best seat at the show! My responsibility is to write on the script while we record it, every take, any notes from the producer or director. This script becomes the master and is referred to constantly for any future pick up lines or just to check how many other takes were considered and why they weren't chosen. (The pages can look very full sometimes). The editors will need it for the same purpose. It's a fabulous learning position, to really understand the entire recording process from this point of view.
In fact, I 've been Sue's assistant on many shows over the last four years but BWT (Beast Wars Transformers) is the most remarkable one. Ms. Blu is an amazing voice over director.