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Documentary 'I Know That Voice' targets unique distribution model

By Daniel Miller

4:15 PM EDT, August 30, 2013

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The world of voice-over artists is having an indie film moment.

Following on the heels of Lake Bell's recently released narrative film "In a World...," which centers on the competitive business of movie trailer voice-over work, comes the documentary "I Know That Voice."

The project, executive produced by John DiMaggio -- the voice of Bender on the animated television series "Futurama" -- features more than 150 voice-over actors in an exploration of their craft and business.

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DiMaggio and fellow producer Tommy Reid said that the film, which was previewed at July's Comic-Con and the subject of a panel there, will use a unique distribution model to reach audiences. 

Though the arrangement has not been finalized and negotiations are ongoing, the independent documentary is expected to premiere in December via the video-on-demand platforms of cable providers Comcast Corp., Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable Inc., the producers said.

"I Know That Voice," which is being distributed by digital distribution company GoDigital, would be available exclusively on those VOD services free of charge for about a month.

After that run, the film would become available for purchase on other VOD services -- such as iTunes, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video -- starting sometime in January.

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DiMaggio said the unique structure would allow the project to reach a wide audience, while benefiting from the marketing muscle he said the cable providers have pledged to provide.

"Our key audience is very tech savvy, so it is a huge plus for us," said DiMaggio, who financed the film for less than $500,000. On Friday, he previewed the documentary at the fantasy convention Dragon Con in Atlanta. "Nerd plus nerd equals super nerd."

Logan Mulvey, chief executive of Los Angeles-based GoDigital, said the distribution arrangement would be unique because the cable providers haven't previously offered such a film free to subscribers in advance of a pay-VOD rollout. 

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"They are looking to grow their services and give customers something different," he said.

Among the well-known voice-over actors featured in "I Know That Voice" are Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson on "The Simpsons," and Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants in the TV show of the same name.

"John and I have been big fans of the digital distribution model," Reid said. "Everyone is watching stuff on their iPads and smartphones today, so we wanted to get it out there."

Reid and DiMaggio said that Bell's "In a World..." would help their project find an audience.

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"In a World...," written, starring, directed and produced by Bell, was released Aug. 9 by Roadside Attractions. The picture, which won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, has grossed about $733,000.

"People are talking about voice-over a lot now," DiMaggio said. "The more people talk about voice-over, the better."

Representatives of Comcast, Cox and Time Warner Cable did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment. 

ALSO:

Lake Bell speaks out on voice-over work 

Lake Bell on the 'soapbox moment' in her 'In a World...'

Review: 'In a World...' is a winning behind-the-mike drama

Daniel Miller

daniel.miller@latimes.com

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