“Voice Messages”: Film-in-progress has interesting voice


Every voice, trained or not, is powerful. The voice has been said to be humankind’s most effective tool. Six-time Emmy™ Award winner Martin Zied is making a film about it.

Fascinated by the emotional power and beauty of the human voice since childhood, Zied has worked with a wide range of voices in his career, both as a singer in various choral genres, and as a producer, director and writer. For his film he has interviewed vocal stars and authorities ranging from Linda Ronstadt to otolaryngologist Robert Sataloff. He is currently filming further material, hopefully for release in summer 2017. And let us add – above the fold – that he welcomes financial contributors to the cause.

Zied became enamored of the human voice when, as a third grader, he heard a sixth-grader sing in a school production and was literally moved to tears. Embarrassed at the time, he later realized that it was the sweetness of that tenor voice itself that had had such effect. Most people rarely think about voices (if at all), but from that point, Zied was hooked on voices.

His documentary has a broad field of focus, spanning aspects of singing, speaking, science, sociology and history in examining the human voice’s power and beauty.

“It’s about all the ways in which we use our voice,” says Zied. “We use it to soothe our children, we use it when we’re angry, we use when we would like to be seductive, we use it to sing and entertain. The film also covers the sociology and biology of the voice and how it ages. So there’s a lot of information about why your voice might sound old (so to speak), and ways in which you may be able to maintain a healthy voice throughout your entire life.”

Yet, sometimes even the best and most of care, a voice can falter. Readers may be aware that Linda Ronstadt has lost her singing voice to Parkinson’s Disease. Zied says that eventually she will lose even her ability to speak.

“She described it as 'asking my voice to go to the fifth floor and it stops at the third floor,'” reports Zied. “There’s nothing that modern medicine can do to fix that or help her, and so I interviewed her and wanted to know what it’s been like to lose her voice. This is so tied up in her identity. She gave me a fascinating interview.”

Other people already interviewed include Layla Hathaway, the daughter of the late R&B singer Donny Hathaway. Zied says she “sounds eerily like him. She sings them in the same key, lot of the same inflections.” The film will use her example in exploring the biological vocal link between parent and child: “Do we inherit the same voices as our parents had? Do we sound like our parents? Can we escape that?”

Zied has also interviewed voice impersonator and cartoon voice actor Billy West (multiple voices in Futurama, and the voices of Ren and Stimpy, among many others).

Michael Winslow is also on the film’s roster. He played Sergeant Larvell “Motor Mouth” Jones in the Police Academy films and does a miraculous range of vocal sound effects (e.g., filtered by telephone or loudspeaker, a car engine, typewriters, etc.).

A veteran a capella singer himself, Zied is impressed by the Grammy-winning gospel/jazz a capella group “Take Six.” They’re also in the film. “They have one super deep bass man, and the rest of them can sing in falsetto,” he said. “They perform their harmonies in the highest space available to man.”

For a more clinical view of the human voice, including the effects of aging, Zied has interviewed otolaryngologist Robert Sataloff, a renowned voice performance surgeon and author. The author of 48 books on the treatment and care of the voice, Dr. Sataloff is chairman of the board for The Voice Foundation, a research and treatment organization.

And he has interviewed Anne Karpf, columnist for The Guardian and the author of “The Human Voice.”

With additional funds, Zied will be able to include more interviews and finish his film. He said in June, at the outset of his crowdfunding campaign, “We’re 40% shot. I want to shoot the rest of the film. I have some great stuff lined up and some terrific ideas. I’d like to raise a total of $45,000 so we can complete shooting of the film.” He added that with $50,000 total, he could cover editing, and $60,000 would enable him to complete all facets of the film, including post-production and marketing.

The 44-day Indiegogo effort raised $28,492 from 232 backers. Zied expresses gratitude for the widespread support, and welcomes additional funding. Meanwhile the crowdsourced funds enable him to film additional content.

“It’d be great if we have it completed by summer of 2017,” he said.

People can learn more and contribute via the project’s own website, Facebook page and other social media presences:

http://voicemessagesdocumentary.com     (Includes trailer)
https://www.facebook.com/VoiceMessagesDocumentary/

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