Brian Page, Versatile Master
You've heard the old saw, Jack of All Trades Master of None? Well, SoCal Media Pros member, Brian Page, is a prolific creator who turns that archaic wisdom on its head! Page is a Master of a number of professional media trades, some of which seem to observers as quite disparate. For instance, how do you reconcile his success as an Actor and Director with his technical prowess as a Sound Designer? It all makes sense once you get to know him!
Today, Brian Page may be best known as a voice-over guy with a beautiful baritone. He calls his business Vocal Images (www.brianpagevoiceovers.com) But depending upon the circles in which you mingle, you would know him better as a stage actor and director. "Those two worlds are not as far apart as you might think," Brian told us. "They're both related to performing and storytelling. And the Sound Design, that's just another aspect of storytelling." We noted that some people don't think of voice-over work as creative. But as Brian explained, " V.O. involves just as much acting as being on stage or in front of a camera—just a different kind!" And with hundreds of narrations under his belt—everything from radio and TV commercials to audio books, corporate videos and e-learning, to a broad range of characters for animation and more, who would know better? So, Where did it all begin and how did it come together, we asked.
"I began a career in broadcasting as an on-air radio DJ. And that also meant running a board and creating original audio productions almost on a daily basis—usually creating commercials but also promos, station IDs, and even comedy bits. It was a lot of recording, editing and mixing." Page also spent years as a radio producer for a daily national talk radio program where his responsibilities included more of the same—writing, voicing and producing radio commercials as well as editing thousands of hours of radio programming. "All that is the basis of my sound design work which I love to do for theater productions—creating a unified audio experience for the audience. Yes, it's technical but it's also great creative exercise!" Having done sound design on numerous plays, Brian Page is in demand to mix his voice talents with music, effects and special voice effects for theatrical productions.
But when it comes to theater, Brian tell us he's not at all torn between the sound design, acting and directing! No, he loves it all!
"They're all different and require different skills but they're all related." Page has performed in more than 70 stage plays in a dozen different Southern California theaters and had the pleasure of helming close to a dozen productions as the Director.
"For me," said Brian, "acting on stage or on camera is this unique blend of individual challenge —bringing a character to life—and a team sport, making that character fit effortlessly into the ensemble to create an engrossing story." In the same way he is a versatile master of various crafts (VO, acting, directing and sound design) Brian likes playing a variety of roles. "I love the idea that I can go from playing the desperately clever Sidney Bruhl in Deathtrap, a high-tension drama to playing Birdboot in The Real Inspector Hound, Tom Stoppard's absurdist comedy play-within-a-play." Page has also brought to life classic icons such as Gandalf in The Hobbitand did two stints (yes, back by popular demand) as an imperious and hectic Victor Fleming in the popular Moonlight & Magnolias.
As a storyteller with all that production and acting background, it was natural for Brian to start Directing for the stage. Without easing up on any of his other business, Page is doing more and more directing. "I Directed Dr. Cooks Garden by Ira Levin, who also wrote Rosemary's Baby, No Time for Sargents and Deathtrap. It's a dramatic thriller and quite a challenge." As a director, Page also guided an original production of Death by Design, by Rob Urbanati. It was a west coast premiere and very well received. Set during a weekend in an English country manor in 1932, Death by Design is a delightful and mysterious “mash-up” of two of the greatest English writers of all time, Agatha Christie and Noel Coward.
Brian even directed himself in a production of Moonlight and Magnolias. "It's hectic. I don't mean just directing yourself as an actor but that play is hectic! Getting the timing down is crucial and yet finding time to let the audience laugh and breath is equally important." Moonlight & Magnolias by Ron Hutchinson, is a hilarious comedy about the crisis rewriting of the Gone with the Wind script set in producer David O. Selznick's office. In a mad thrash Selznick and director Victor Fleming (whose personalities are like oil and water) are acting out scenes from the book while legendary Ben Hecht, known for his caustic commentary, is typing them out.
"That's a very tough thing, directing yourself in theater," Brian Page admitted. "It's much different than film where you can look at yourself after every take and then do it again. I've only had the occasion once, with Moonlight & Magnolias in 2016. I started directing the show and ultimately couldn't find an actor to play Victor Fleming, so I took on the role and then called in a friend to co-direct with me. But really, I needed her to "direct me" since I couldn't see myself or how it looks interacting with the other actors."
That perspective, along with his years of experience as an actor both on-stage and behind a microphone was one reason why Page added instructing workshops in VO acting to his list of skills. "Brian's both experienced and talented as a director and coach," said engineer-producer, Tim Keenan, seen here with Brian on the left.
It was Tim Keenan with whom Page co-produced the workshops at Keenan's Cypress CA studio, Creative Media Recording. "Between Tim and I," added Brian, "with our different skills and experience—the voice-over professionals who signed up for our workshop got a really intense training encounter." For now, the workshops are not regularly scheduled but Keenan and Page promise more in the future.
Besides being a busy and versatile creative, Brian Page has been a nationally known industry leader. A one-time president of MCAI, the Media Communications Association, International, Page currently sits on the board of another respected professional group, one which he helped found; The SoCal Media Pros. (www.socalmediapros.org) You can see and hear examples of Brian Page's work displaying his versatility by going to his website, BrianPageVoiceOvers.com