Creating an audiobook version of The True Adventures of Gidon Lev has been an adventure unto itself. Our sound designer, Vickie Sampson works her magic on the narrative in ways that are impossible to thank her enough for. Suffice to say that when sound is done well, you don't really notice it - it just sounds good. But when it doesn't? That's another story and that's why we are so lucky to have Vickie. But another major factor was, of course, actor Elli Rahn, who read the "part" of Gidon. We chose to work with Elli for a couple of reasons. First, it was just too much for Gidon to read ALL of his writing; he'd written thousands of words. But second, having the voice of a "younger Gidon" added a dimension to Gidon's story that really makes it powerful. A big reason for writing The True Adventures was to make Gidon's story relevant and real for us today. Elli's voice work in the audiobook really helped to bring that home.
How did you hear about The True Adventures of Gidon Lev and what interested you in being a part of the project?
The miracle of social media; A mutual friend of Julie and I shared her post about the audiobook. It called for an actor to narrate a key part, and I just happened to catch it at the right moment while scrolling down endlessly through my feed. I didn't think twice and reached out to her right away. The Holocaust has always been a very dominant subject in my life through my grandparents, who survived the camps as children, and it's very important for me to share these personal stories. Then, once I started chatting with Julie and Gidon, and I realized that this is far more than another Holocaust story, I just jumped right in.
Tell us about yourself, you are from Israel originally, right? What do you do in LA?
Yes, I was born and raised in Haifa, and always knew that I will be working in Hollywood someday. My American journey began in 2006, but I only moved to LA county five years ago. So far I've been cast mainly in different indie films and immersive theater but had a few chances to work on some big TV productions and music videos as well. Most recently I was on set with Jennifer Garner for her upcoming Netflix film. I'm also performing in different musicals and cabaret shows. I write sketch comedy and currently translating my grandmother's memoirs from Hebrew to English, planning to publish it in the near future.
Have you done voice work before?
I've done some foreign film dub, commercials, and video games, but I always wanted to work on an audiobook, and this was my first experience with that.
What kind of material works best for an actor when reading a script? Do you need or want background or information about the characters?
Depends on the actor. Personally, I like a good story with authentic dialogue that is easy to read and follow. If the script can make me feel happy, sad, shocked or excited it's going to be more fun for me to work on it. I like to have as much background information on the character as possible, but it's not always needed. Sometimes it's just about the subtleties and what I feel at the moment. In this case, it really helped me to watch videos of Gidon dancing or doing something funny. The emotions came up naturally as I was speaking his words and putting myself in his shoes.
Do you have any advice for writers who would like their work to be narrated for audiobooks?
Invest in a professional team of sound designer and narrator who can really dive deep into the material and understand it, and give them the creative freedom to bring their own take on it.
What did you experience as you read the part of Gidon? His story has so many mountains and valleys; was it an emotional journey for you?
Yes, it was very emotional. Since these last few months were a life-changing experience globally, as we all faced the fear of death, with the threat of an unknown enemy that is going to "end the world", plus personally, I was in a strange situation, having just lost my steady job and relationship, to say it was an emotional journey would definitely be an understatement. But I was happy for the opportunity to work on my craft and use my skills, from home, to create something meaningful and tell a good story in this time of uncertainty and depression. It helped put everything in perspective for me; it forced me to connect on a deeper level, and see myself as a son and as a father. In many ways, this project was the best thing that happened to me during this quarantine time. I feel honored and truly grateful for this entire experience.