Interview: Scott Houle

by Ryan Mathews,
It doesn't seem that long since this site was mourning the loss of Coastal Studios, one of the most well-loved dubbing studios of all time. After shutting its doors in March 2003, Coastal "rose from the flames" in the form of Phoenix Post Sound. Phoenix Post will be dubbing AN Entertainment's Miami Guns, due for release this June. Anime News Network spoke with the man behind the studio, Scott Houle, on the topic of Coastal's end, Phoenix Post's beginning, and the dubbing industry in general.

ANN: So Scott, it wasn't that long ago that we were all mourning the end of Coastal, and suddenly you're back in action again with Phoenix Post. How did Coastal come to its end, and how did you land this new gig?

SH: I think it's best to answer this question with a quick history lesson. Coastal's specialty for the last twelve years has been performing ADR (automatic dialog replacement) for the American Film Industry. Wilmington, North Carolina has always been in a very unique situation, ever since Dino DeLaurentis built his movie studio (D.E.G) there in the spring of 1983. In 1987 the lot was sold to Carolco Pictures and soon became a multimillion dollar industry, with four and five features in town simultaneously. Major film stars became common place to locals and the economy was booming.

Between '94 and '95 Coastal was approached by Robert Woodhead of AnimEigo about doing some ADR for his company as well. I simply fell in love with this "new" form of animation, and found myself showing it to the film stars as they came in to work on their movies. In the following years, Coastal also became involved in dubbing projects with Bandai, Media Blasters, and ADV.

In 1997, Screen Gems bought the movie studio and the number of new productions began waning quickly. Some companies in the Anime Industry were also "tightening up" by building more in-house dubbing studios. By early 2003, Coastal's books were beginning to show a substantial loss.

At the same time, I'd been following the progress of a web site I'd become intrigued with for almost two years. It was concerning a new movie studio being developed in the mountains of Western North Carolina (Asheville) called "Blue Ridge Motion Pictures". One day, I simply grabbed a handful of pictures of movie stars that I'd worked with and drove to their lot. They said "welcome home".

While Pamela (Weidner) and I were building the new studio at BRMP ("Phoenix Post Sound", a division of Coastal Studios, Inc.), I received an email asking me If I would be interested in coming back again as a guest to Otakon. While in Baltimore, I spoke with Gene & Connie Field of AnimeNation about dubbing their new title Miami Guns (a hilarious comedic / parody). Today, Phoenix is quite busy with a variety of film projects but also very happy that we are continuing to work with voice actors in the world of anime.

ANN: Coastal's actors built up a decent fan following over the years. Can fans expect to see any of their favorites return?

SH: To our delight, many of the original Coastal actors have contacted us saying that they'd like to help in our endeavors to continue "Coastal Anime". We're trying to figure out how to make this happen, but anime budgets are seldom large enough to allow Wilmington actors to be profitable with what is now a six hour distance between us.

ANN: You've been dubbing anime for roughly ten years. In that time, how has the business of dubbing changed?

SH: Ten years ago, the budgets were bigger and timelines were longer. As with any Industry that grows, so does competition. Accelerated production time can cause two problematic issues, flooding of the market and the licensing of lesser quality titles. On the positive end, casting seems to be taking more of a "front seat" and increased technical expertise is becoming more present. Obviously, the giant leap forward was the development of DVD.

ANN: What it is that distributors look for when hiring a dubbing studio? Quality? Location? Or is price becoming an overbearing factor?

SH: Actually, the producer is usually the person who hires the dubbing studio. While price is always a very large factor, everything must stay in balance. Keep in mind that many anime companies are starting to utilize in-house or "close by" studios, thereby keeping more involvement in production. Expediency is also a huge issue, but still, the main point is to produce a product with shelf life.

ANN: Do you have any comment on the influence of unions in dub production? I find it curious how far actors in the L.A. studios will go to disguise their identity, while ADV's actors in Texas seem to be quite happy to let the world know who they are.

SH: I'll start with four words: "Right to Work State" (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming). "Individuals who work in Right to Work States cannot be required to pay to join or pay dues or fees to a union." (Employees of airlines and railroads, and employees working on property subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction, cannot be required to join a union, but may be required to pay union fees.) However, there are ways that a union actor can be involved in a non-union production as long as the union is aware of it. Write them a letter, you might be surprised by how workable they can be.

ANN: Where do you see dubbing going in the future?

SH: The Anime Industry is full of surprises and very hard to speculate on, but I would venture to say that the immediate future will be based more on economic issues rather than political or artistic. As a director, I'd also like to see the actors receive more credit for their work, but I believe that natural industry evolution will eventually take care of that.

Scott provided us with a list of Coastal's accomplishments.

Film / Television:
Batman II, III, IV / The Lion King / The Crow / Road To Wellville / Radioland Murders / Teaching Ms. Tingle / Young Indiana Jones / Dawson's Creek / Buffy - The Vampire Slayer / Matlock / Sliders / Chasers / Birds II / Dream On / Empire Records / Acts of Love / Nowhere Man / Blackout / Dead Giveaway / Angel Girl / The Horror Story / etc.....

Anthony Hopkins / Jim Carrey / Dennis Hopper / Matthew Broderick / Katie Holmes - all "Dawson" cast / Sara Michelle Gellar / Andy Griffith / Clair Danes / Rene Auberjonois / Michael McKean / Annabeth Gish / Pat Hingle / Edward Herrman / Melissa Gilbert / Judith Light / Dean Stockwell / Tim Matheson / Matthew Modine / Sean Patrick Flannery / Jerry O'Connell / etc.....

Anime Dubbing Productions:
Rupan III - Fuma Conspiracy / Baoh / Spirit of Wonder / You're Under Arrest OVA / Oh! My Goddess / Crusher Joe / Earthian / Shinesman / KITE / Elf Princess Rane / Sailor Victory / Voogie's Angel / Princess Rouge / Blue Submarine No.6 / Virtua Fighter TV series (25 eps.) / You're Under Arrest TV series (48 eps.) / You're Under Arrest Specials (20 eps.) / You're Under Arrest! - The Movie

Coming soon (Phoenix Post Sound):
Miami Guns TV series (13 eps.)

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