This interview was conducted with representatives from a couple of other sources, so some of the answers go beyond Moon Chase staff's prepared questions. We hope readers find this interview interesting, particularly since Christopher Bevins gave insight about the job of directing versus acting; which resulted in an interview with a different focus.
I opened the questions by mentioning he had been ADR director for Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad which previously aired on Much Music in Canada. He also played Beck the dog in that series (which readers may recall from my previous coverage of the Pet Sounds panel). He noted that Canadian fans often mention that Beck aired on Much, and I let him know that Much Music is unfortunately no longer airing anime. He was a little sorry to hear that.
Since music and singing were a significant part of the Beck series, I asked Bevins if that posed any unique challenges for him as a director. He confirmed that it was very difficult and he needed both an assistant director (Taliesin Jaffe) and a music director (Mike McFarland) to make things work. Mike McFarland also adapted the song lyrics for the show. Bevins only directed a couple of the songs himself, which were meant to be more raw sounding performances.
For some background on Christopher Bevins; he was born in L.A., but moved away when he was about six or seven. He lived in Orange County when he was young. Coming to Sakura Con meant a trip back to Seattle after twenty years of being away. He mentioned that he was happy to find that some of his favourite places were still around.
Christopher Bevins first discovered a knack for voice acting by experimenting with accents. He said he's always been told that he has a great voice. In fact, when he used to work for Bank of America, in a smaller branch, he would do the live announcements in the deli next door and people would be surprised that it was his voice and not a recorded performance!
Bevins also noted that he loves cartoons and is a big comic book fan. He had known about anime before working at Funimation, but he wasn't a huge fan. While working at a comic shop, he would air random anime, partly to interest customers in checking out new titles. He watched Star Blazers and Robotech as a child, but he was primarily a fan of American cartoons. although he watched pretty much whatever was on, he did say he liked G.I. Joe a lot and collected items from that franchise. Regarding his comic book collection, he said he has 20 long and 20 short boxes full of comics. This is over 5000 issues! Aside from working on anime, he would really love to be able to make superhero cartoons, particularly Marvel or DC properties. He also loves the current Avengers cartoon. He also noted that in comics, he has a love/hate relationship with Fantastic 4. When he likes the stories, he reads them but when he doesn't he stops buying for a while.
In high school, Bevins wanted to become a movie director, and his fall back was supposed to be teaching at the high school level. Eventually he realized that teaching wasn't right for him because he doesn't generally like starting work that early every day and he thought he wouldn't enjoy being around teenagers all the time. At this point, he took a break before studying more about recording. After this, he became involved with Funimation.
Bevins admit that he has been very lucky in his career and is very appreciative of the good things that have happened to him. Two of the series he previously wanted most to work on were Burst Angel and Samurai 7. He was fortunate enough to work on both.
Beck and Speed Grapher were among his favourite titles to work on, but also the most challenging. Beck was challenging because of the music, as outlined above; Speed Grapher was challenging because it was so different for Funimation at the time. It was the first title that included swearing, for starters.
For fans a little unfamiliar with some of the behind the scenes roles in creating anime, here are some descriptions Christopher Bevins provided of some of the jobs he's had behind the scenes:
- Line Producer: this person hires the director and is responsible for turning in the dub. This includes making sure everything is included and completed on time. (this is not a job that Christopher Bevins does anymore, but he has in the past)
- ADR Director: does the casting with the producer and otherwise is similar to a film director in guiding actors' performances.
- Script Adapter: This is not a translating job. The Script Adapter will receive translations and video content to write the script. The script needs to match mouth movements and timing, convey character personalities, and account for things such as accents as needed (accents may add sounds, so this has to be written in the script).
Bevins voiced a few random characters in Case Closed (as Akiyoshi in ep 3; Concierge in ep 25; Henry Nelbit in ep 56; Moreese Cortezini in ep 66) prior to directing the Case Closed: The Last Wizard of the Century movie in addition to voicing the character Ray Segue in that film. The series had a trial run on YTV in Canada, in addition to airing on Cartoon Network and Funimation Channel in the US. He noted that pretty much everyone at Funimation was involved with Case Closed at some point, and it was a series he really enjoyed. The movies were something that Funimation acquired a couple years after the series. Bevins did ask if he could do one of the movies, as it had been a while since working on the TV series and he wanted to work on it again. Since the movie didn't need to be generalized for a mass market audience, Bevins made the decision to change specific locations back to Japan. He noted that during the series, sometimes changing locations to be very general would have a ripple effect where the puzzles had to be modified too.
The kind of series that Christopher Bevins finds the most creatively satisfying to work on are something he hasn't done before, something that presents a challenge. He recently completed his first comedy, Heaven's Lost Property. Although he was used to working on titles that had comedic portions, this was different for him as it was comedic all the time. He also just got a show that he requested to direct, but it has lots of unique challenges so it will be hard.
When preparing actors for auditions, Bevins said that he gives them a basic description of the show, an idea of how the character speaks, and a basic description that gives them an idea of how to perform the character. Sometimes he will try to encourage the actors to challenge themselves and may point out a few roles that he'd like them to either consider or avoid during the audition process.
Bevins admit he has pretty much cast himself as something, even if just a short role, in everything he has directed. Often this is simply done to keep the schedule moving, but it is also so that he can continue to keep up his acting skills while he is primarily directing. He also noted that he enjoys being casted by other directors as well, but this doesn't tend to happen very often because of scheduling conflicts.
Christopher Bevins has directed quite a few series targeted at a female audience, including RIN – Daughters of Mnemosyne, Burst Angel, Romeo x Juliet, Corpse Princess (Shikabane Hime), and El Cazador de la Bruja. Although he did say that there are some differences in how to approach directing a series for girls, and it was a little different for him at first; he primarily focuses on the believability of the characters within the story, and less on "would a girl actually say that?" He also said that he somewhat has a preference for directing series that feature more female characters. One of the series he previously directed was very much a "dude series" as he described it, so the studio would sometimes smell like sweaty guys. But it was refreshing when a female actress would come in and the place would smell pretty again!
We hope readers enjoyed this interview with Christopher Bevins. If you'd like to see more interviews of behind the scenes personalities in future convention coverage, please let us know!
Photo credits: photo of Christopher Bevins taken by Emily at Sakura Con 2011; Heaven's Lost Property promo image from Funimation.com; Street Fighter 4 image is a screen shot from the game, original source unconfirmed