A meeting with Rick Dempsey

Sr. Vice President of Creative for Walt Disney Character Voices International

This past week, I had the opportunity to meet with Rick Dempsey, the Sr. Vice President of Creative for Walt Disney Character Voices International.

Walt Disney and Clarence "Ducky" Nash recording dialogue between Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (Flicker/TomSimpson)

Walt Disney and Clarence “Ducky” Nash recording dialogue between Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (Flicker/TomSimpson)

Rick has the amazing job of keeping the integrity of the voices to what Walt Disney originally created.  That means that, no matter where you go in the world, characters such as Mickey Mouse will always sound the same and say the things Mickey would say – no matter what language they speak.

It was such a privilege to get to know Rick, a fellow Master’s College graduate, better.  Here are a few of the many things I learned:

1.  Humble beginnings do not make humble endings

Rick shared how he began his producing career with his first job running coffee and mail in a producing studio.  While it wasn’t glamorous, it gave him the opportunity to make a variety of contacts (people who would eventually help him grow in his career) and serve them well.

2.  Start local and work bigger

Rick explained that many of the greatest composers at Disney (such as Alan Menken) started small by writing music for local community events or local theater.  They didn’t just immediately start writing for Broadway.  It took years of work, starting small, and working bigger.

Flicker/SummerRain812

Flicker/SummerRain812

3.  Don’t read lines to your talent

As I am looking to do more stories like The Light Princess that incorporate music and narration, Rick gave me this valuable advice:  “Don’t read lines to your talent.”  In other words, he encouraged me to find someone who can do the voice and emotions that I want, explain the scenario, and let them do the rest.  I should never try to read the lines to them or make them try to sound exactly like I perform it.

It was a wonderful meeting and I’m grateful to Rick Dempsey for taking the time to meet with me and share words of wisdom.

Question:  What are some of your favorite audio stories that incorporate narration and music?  What stories do you wish were set to music?

A Conversation with Booker White

Meeting with Booker WhiteRecently, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Booker White, the head Music Librarian down at Walt Disney Studios!  While there, Booker showed me the copy stations as well as some of the Disney scores including the new Tommorrowland, some of the old Mickey Mouse cartoons, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Even more importantly, Booker was gracious enough to talk with me about how he started out in the music business and the many different aspects of music production (especially from a music copyist’s standpoint).  Here are a few things I learned: