It’s impossible to read the title of Lake Bell’s feature directorial debut In a World… without mimicking the iconic voice of Don LaFontaine, the godfather of movie trailers. While trailers have moved from in-theater events to online exclusives, Bell says in our short-attention span culture they serve as a way to get people excited and engaged.
“A good trailer is a good trailer, there’s no arguing that, whether you’ve seen it online, whether you’ve seen it in the theater,” Bell told EW from the set of the upcoming comedy Million Dollar Arm. “We culturally are very in tune to trailers and turned on by them because they are like mini movies and they satisfy even the shortest attention span.”
The film follows the story of Carol Solomon (played by Bell), a struggling vocal coach who happens into a string of voiceover successes — something the voiceover experts, including her father, Sam Sotto (Fred Melamed, A Serious Man), the presumed king of the voiceover after the passing of LaFontaine, deem impossible for a woman. The father-daughter competition is surrounded by a host of supporting cast, including Carol’s sister Dani (SNL regular Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law (Rob Corddry).
Check out the poster for the upcoming film exclusively below:
Bell’s Children’s Hospital costars Corddry and Ken Marino feature prominently in the film, along with Watkins and comedian Dmitri Martin. Perhaps with the exception of Marino’s smarmy character — up and coming voiceover guru Gustav Warner — Bell’s direction has brought out a side of the comedians that we’ve rarely seen in their other comedy projects — heart.
“In a way it’s sometimes more difficult when you ask your friends to be a part of something because you really know how busy they are, you know they are trying to juggle their lives and a myriad of other stuff they’re developing and that time is really precious. So I was really respectful of all of them. I think Rob Corddry and Dmitri do really come off beautifully and trusted me to express themselves, certainly more emotionally than they have [in other films],” Bell said.
But one thing none of the stars had coming to this project was voiceover experience — or so she thought.
“I was a fan of Fred Melamed’s from A Serious Man and a myriad of Woody Allen movies that he appeared in, but when I finally sat down with him, script in hand and ready to shake on it, he revealed to me that he’d actually been a voiceover actor for 20 years,” Bell said. “That was totally a happy accident for me. I cast him because I thought he was truly despicable and loving at the same time and so hilarious and heartbreaking. He’s just capable of doing that kind of complexity in comedic form.” Bell added that Melamad hadn’t just done a few voiceovers — he was part of the voiceover “dream team” including La Fontaine, bringing another dimension of knowledge to the character.
Bell adds that while the voiceover industry is the focus of the film, the story is really an umbrella for the types of family struggles and egotistical struggles that happen in every industry.
“I don’t think of In a World… as a Hollywood movie,” Bell said. ”Voiceover artists are the stepchildren of the industry. It’s relatable to think about – there are many industries with hierarchy, where egomaniacal characterizations exist. Gentle [sexism] feels archaic but exists in many different factions.”
In a World… debuted at Sundance in 2013 and will be released in theaters this fall.