Iran News ...


06/04/10

An Iranian-American Behind the Scene in Hollywood

By Grace Nasri, Iran Times


Amir Soleimani

Iranian-American Amir Soleimani is the president and CEO of Voice Over There, a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in on-location dialogue recording for the film and television industry.           

While Iranian-born actors and actresses like Shohreh Aghdashloo from the film House of Sand and Fog and the TV drama House of Saddam, and Golshifteh Farahani from the film Body of Lives, have taken front roles in Hollywood films and TV shows, Iranian-Americans are also taking lead roles in Hollywood's behind-the-scenes work.

Voice Over There has done work for many popular shows and networks, including: Parenthood on NBC, United States of Tara on Showtime, Big Love on HBO, The Starter Wife on the USA Network, Bones on Fox, Privileged on the CW, Kath and Kim on NBC and My Own Worst Enemy on CBS.  "We saw a niche that could be satisfied," Soleimani told the Iran Times

Soleimani described Voice Over There's mobile recording studio to the Iran Times.  Voice Over There provides a "sound proof trailer to take on location for actors who cannot make it to the recording studio when there is a need to perform additional dialogue recording, known as ADR," he told the Iran Times.  "There is a lot of demand for this type of service from the number one actors and talent...  Sometimes it's just one line but it takes half a day or a day to get to the other side of town to get it done [in the studio].  So we go on location...  The actors can finish the voice overs when they're on their lunch break or in between lighting setups.  It only takes about 10-15 minutes, and it's more effective and convenient for everybody.  We streamline the operation of ADR," he explained. 

After a 15-year career with AT&T Digital Media Center and a 13-year affiliation with FOX Sports International and FOX Soccer Channel, the veteran TV director/technical director designed and manufactured the first VOT trailer in 2007-2008.  In a June 2008 interview with the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, Soleimani explained that he started the company in an effort to simplify the ADR process.

The company's roughly 15-foot, 10,000 pound mobile voiceover soundstage is fully equipped with a soundproofed and air-conditioned recording studio.  The prototype reportedly cost more than $100,000 to build, but with no offices or studio, the company's overhead remains low.

From the trailer, Voice Over There can do ADR recordings, with the ability to transmit recordings almost immediately via wireless Internet.  The trailer studio, which is powered by a generator and is completely self-sufficient, is also equipped for live radio broadcasting.

One recent example of how Voice Over There makes life easier for Hollywood stars, was when actor Christian Slater had to re-record several lines for an episode of NBC's "My Own Worst Enemy."  Instead of having to drive to the studio in congested Los Angeles traffic, Voice Over There conveniently stationed itself outside the actor's home in Bel Air.

"He did in 10 minutes what would have taken two hours (if he had to drive to a studio)," Tony Schmitz, Voice Over There's marketing director told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

Voice Over There has made life easier for much of Hollywood.  Co-producer David Jeffery of the show Bones, said, "Voice Over There is an invaluable and time-saving service for our postproduction.  All the recording we've done in the trailer blends very nicely with our mix on the stage."

Joe Melody, President of Smart Post Sound, also praised Soleimani's company.  "The Voice Over There trailer made it possible for us [to] get the essential lines of dialogue in time for the final mix.  We've used Voice Over There for several episodes of Bones when they're on location and the actors can't get into an ADR stage.  The trailer allows us to expand the reach and convenience of our sound services."

Though Voice Over There is currently a local company, Soleimani expects the company to expand in the near future.  "We want to make it a national service," Soleimani said, adding that he hoped that Voice Over There would be operating in major cities across the United States in the near future.

Voice Over There is now in its second year, and Soleimani hopes to see his company expand in the near future to other hot spots.  "In the next few years, we hope to set up our second and third unit in Southern California.  Then, we would like to set up operations in New York, New Mexico, Boston, Colorado and Chicago," he told the Iran Times, adding, "People are not very keen on changing the way of doing things... and it takes time for the word to get around.  It's something that will catch on, you just have to keep at it."

Voice Over There is currently working with NBC's new series "Parenthood" in large part because of the series' co-producer, Patrick Ward.  Ward told Studiodaily that he wanted to work with Voice Over There because of its convenience.  "It works quite well," Ward said. "I love the convenience. I heard about it from a studio head in post at Warner Bros., and I tested the quality after the first session and I was hooked. It doesn't take time out of the actors' day and they don't have to leave to go to the sound stage. I will take this with me wherever I go," he said.

Soleimani was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1962.  He immigrated to the United States in 1978, shortly before the revolution of 1979.  Initially, Soleimani settled in San Diego, but after three months, he moved to Los Angeles, where he has been ever since.  Soleimani, who is also a certified aircraft technician, went to college at the Northrop-Rice Aviation Institute of Technology in Los Angeles.  He then transferred to Los Angeles City College, where he received his degree in TV Production.  Soleimani and his wife Shamila live in Santa Clarita.  Together, they have two sons, aged five and 13.

In his spare time, Soleimani has started a community program at La Mesa Junior High School in Santa Clarita-where his 13-year-old goes to school-called the Voice Acting Competition.  The program gives kids a firsthand experience of what it's like to be in a recording studio.  The kids have recorded dialogue spots in the Voice Over There trailer, and their segments have been uploaded to the local radio station's website, where people can view the segments and vote for their favorite.  The winner will be interviewed on Santa Clarita's KHTS AM 1220.  The station's website can be found at: www.hometownstation.com. Soleimani told the Iran Times he hopes to soon expand the contest to other schools citywide, and then statewide.

For more information on Voice Over There, visit: www.voiceoverthere.com

About the author: Grace Nasri, who received her MA in International Relations at New York University, is an Assistant Editor at Iran Times International.   She can be reached at gracenasanine@gmail.com.

About Iran Times: The Iran Times is an independent newspaper with no affiliation with any political party or faction The Iran Times corporation was founded in Washington D.C. in 1970, in accordance with U.S. federal and local regulations: www.iran-times.com

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