For this installment of Get to Know the Casting Director, we’re featuring someone known for her casting work on video games like Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Terri Douglas also specializes in automated dialogue replacement (ADR) voice casting and holds an impressive list of nearly 500 film and TV credits to her name that include titles such as Loki, WandaVision, The Mandalorian, Toy Story 4, Frozen and Frozen II. With a busy slate of upcoming projects, Douglas still found time to virtually sit down with Casting Networks and provide a window into the person behind all the credits in the world of ADR voice casting.
It’s great to virtually meet you, Terri. You specialize in such an interesting niche of casting, and I’d love to start with your overview of what all it entails.
I am an ADR voice casting director who specifically casts top loop groups for features, TV shows, animation projects and video games, as well as principal and incidental characters and voice matches. The technical name for “ADR” is automated dialogue replacement, but you might also have heard it referred to as “walla group” or “loop group.” I’ll use the example of an airplane scene to demonstrate how it works. Only the principal actors are mic’d when filming the scene so their audio track is not married to the background actors’ production track. We come in to recreate the background sound for the scene — the job of a loop group is to make the background come alive again via voice acting. I bring in a group of actors to a large ADR stage, which is essentially a big room with a microphone and screen. Then we loop to the picture on the screen. With the airplane example, we could be looping a scene where we need to cover the adult passengers, flight attendants, PA announcements, and even kids crying in the background. It’s all a matter of improv skills for the loopers to fill in those conversations and sounds during ADR recording sessions.
That’s a fascinating part of the filmmaking process to work in and cast. When was the moment you knew it was the job for you?
I had acted, sung and danced as a kid and had a love for the entertainment business when I was very young. In college, I worked in on-camera casting but decided to switch directions and go into law. Before I did, though, I took a seminar on voice-over and heard about looping, which I thought sounded exciting. A looping coordinator who was there thought I had a great young teen voice and asked me to sit in on a recording session. So I went and watched the actors loop and worked on the mic with them and about two seconds into it, I realized that I was very good at looping and loved it and was meant to do it for the rest of my life.
Wow. It sounds like a very clear, “aha” moment. Now with so much experience under your belt, can you share one of your proudest casting moments so far?
It’s hard to pick just one. When I’ve selected actors for a loop group and see them step up to the mic and just knock it out, that’s so thrilling for me. It’s a lot of fun to see the faces of the editors or directors or producers when they get exactly what they were looking for and even more. There are so many projects that include proud moments of watching talent shine, but one that does come to mind is Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. It’s part of such an iconic film series, and getting to help carry on the torch felt very special. I remember the loopers and I were all on the ADR stage ready to start, and when the scene that was being looped came on, everyone just lit up like Christmas lights with excitement that we were a part of film history.
What a memorable session! It’s likely an enticing story for people already interested in doing ADR voice work. Do you have any advice for those considering pursuing it?
Anyone who wants to be in a loop group needs to be a trained actor, which means they’ve taken scene study classes, as well as improv classes. Doing looping work is the same as on-camera work in that it needs to be believable and grounded, not manufactured. And just like actors need a demo reel, voice actors need a voice demo of the characters they can play. In the past, it wasn’t necessary to have a voice demo for looping, but that’s changed since the pandemic and is needed for animation loop groups now. So I’d recommend getting a demo professionally made, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on it. The last thing I’ll say is to do your research before the session so you can believably deliver improvised dialogue for a wide range of people and professions. A great looper is someone who knows a little bit about everything and who can use that to convey various characters and their expertise.
That’s a good thing to know for all the jack-of-all-trades types reading this. And before we wrap, can you share what’s on your watchlist at the moment?
I’m a massive channel surfer so that’s a hard one to answer. I jump around because I cast so many different genres and want to keep up with all the different shows. So I don’t often get to watch a whole season of something because of time, let alone an entire series. And I watch things from the past, as well. Fun shows from the 50s and 60s like Bewitched tend to have a lot of great characters in them. Since a lot of my casting can involve voice matching, it’s important to have a wide-ranging working knowledge of standout actors from the shows of yesterday and today. I will say, though, that I have a guilty pleasure on my watchlist right now. I’m having fun keeping up with this reality show called Escape to the Chateau, which follows this British couple and their kids while they redesign and remodel a chateau that they bought in France. The people in it are just such characters naturally and so enjoyable to watch. Plus, I love designing.
Douglas wrapped her interview with an encouragement to those interested in pursuing ADR voice work. “Looping and voice-over encompass all of the actors out there,” she noted. “I’m constantly searching for a wide range of talent to help us bring scenes to life.” And Douglas noted that actors with language and authentic dialect skills are especially sought after in the loop group community. Those interested in learning more about the casting director and her work can check out the Terri Douglas ADR Voice Casting & Directing site.
This interview has been edited and condensed.