Honest Trailers is probably one of the funniest parody video series on the web.
Recently, the group put together a brilliant take on “The Wolf of Wall Street” that
pokes fun at the film’s massive amount of cursing and tropes director Martin Scorsese uses in all of his films.
“Witness Scorsese break out every Scorsese-ism in the book like a f— ton of tracking shots, f—ing voiceover, f—ing freeze frames, multiple f—ing wives … and an ambitious criminal main character with a short temper whose pride is his ultimate downfall.”
Check it out below:
Honest Trailers is one of two weekly shows put out by YouTube channel Screen Junkies, a property of Defy Media, formed after the merger of Alloy Digital and Break Media in late 2013. Since debuting in February 2012, Honest Trailers has racked up more than 30 million views and helped bring in 2 million subscribers to the Screen Junkies channel.
One of the staples that makes the videos so popular is the man who voices the parodies in an “epic movie trailer” voice. Viewers are asked to submit items they want to hear said in the voice and a few of them are selected and played at the end of each video.
While you may have heard the voice, you probably don’t know the face behind it.
Enter Jon Bailey, who has been voicing the series since late 2012.
Business Insider recently spoke with series co-creator Andy Signore and Bailey, the man behind the Honest Trailers voice, to find out more about how the popular videos are put together and to learn about the face behind the voice.
It takes give or take a week to put together an Honest Trailer
The Honest Trailers crew consists of a small team — series creators Signore and Brett Weiner, along with Spencer Gilbert, Gilli Nissim, and Dan Murrell. A few freelancers have been brought on to help bring together more recent projects, but there are usually four people always working on a trailer.
“It usually takes about a week’s time to watch the movie, take the notes, do our sort of group writing session, and make sure it’s funny,” says Signore. “Then Dan, our editor, takes a few days to edit it all together.”
Videos are put together based on what’s popular at the moment and comment suggestions from readers.
Signore says the most difficult ones to put together have been Honest Trailers for television series like “Breaking Bad” or “Game of Thrones” because they encompasses an entire series as opposed to a singular film.
Finding the voice behind the series
Before Bailey joined as the voice of Honest Trailers, the show had two previous voices. One was a comedian, Ptolemy Slocum, who does professional voice overs, but who Signore says didn’t fit “the movie trailer voice.” After voicing one video for “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” he was replaced by Gannon Nickell, who voiced a dozen videos before being called away for military duty.
“[He] had a strange, gravelly voice and it would go really deep,” says Signore. “He was able to give us that really nice, deep tone. We used him for a while, but he was in the army and got pulled to a station. He wasn’t able to record with us in LA as often.”
Signore says he then went on the hunt for a new voice, but it wasn’t so easy.
“We’re making fun of movie trailers, so I figured we’d have a hard time getting an actual official movie trailer voice to really do it for us.” says Signore.
Signore stumbled upon Jon Bailey while perusing the web. It just so happened Bailey had the real movie trailer voice Signore was searching for.
Today, Bailey has been doing professional voice overs for five years. Before, he worked a range of jobs.
“I was working as a forklift driver for a warehouse, I was working as a kitchen manager for a local burger place,” says Bailey. “Somewhere around 2009 I started doing professional voice over work part time. Then at the end of 2011, the company I was working for full-time went bankrupt and they closed the warehouse I was in so I started auditioning full-time for voice over. That’s right around the time where everyone started finding me on YouTube.”
Now, Bailey has been doing voice overs full-time for three years. All together, he has voiced more than 100 movie trailers including TV and DVD trailers as well as network promos for series including “Community,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Justified.”
Perfecting the Honest Trailer Voice
The Honest Trailers’ voice wasn’t perfected overnight. It took a bit of work to find the right balance for the epic movie trailer voice.
“In the beginning, Jon was used to doing the very dramatic straight-laced voice over. Whereas, I think our version is more of a parody of the voice over in which Jon has to have even more range,” says Signore. “Thankfully, he does and that’s the beauty about it.”
“Our first one together was ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and I was so used to doing normal, regular movie trailers,” says Bailey. “A lot of people were saying this looks like a movie trailer. They wanted more of a parody version so we basically went back and forth with it a little bit until we got a feel for it and then it became it’s own version of a movie trailer voice but not a standard movie trailer voice.”
Fans of the trailers know Bailey changes up his voice depending on the genre. There’s a “romantic comedy voice” used for “The Notebook,” a “family voice” for “Home Alone” and “The Lion King,” and then there’s a more iconic voice reserved for action movie trailers. Bailey says the classic “in a world” type voice popularised by voice actors Don LaFontain and Hal Douglas is used for the rest of the videos.
Signore says Bailey does so many different styles of the movie trailer voice that sometimes commenters think they have changed the voice of Honest Trailers again.
When Bailey began voicing videos it took about an hour to record the trailers which range from four to five minutes on average. After about two years, they have it down to a science.
“When we first started, it was a lot of back and forth, and Andy would have to ask me to do it again and again a certain way to get it the way he heard it in his head,” says Bailey. “It took about 45 minutes to do it. Now we’ve knocked out like six-page scripts in 15 minutes. We’re on the same page now.”
What’s next for Honest Trailers
After more than 60 parodies, the show recently started a collaboration with another Defy Media property, Smosh, one of the largest channels on YouTube, to put out Honest Game Trailers every other Saturday.
However, there’s still one thing Signore would love Honest Trailers to do.
“I’m still tying to push an actual celebrity to do the Honest Trailer for their own movie,” says Signore. “I want someone who understands what we’re doing and enjoys it and is willing to make fun of themselves. We’ve been close a few times but they’re always afraid to upset the studio or have already bailed.”
Bailey thinks it may end up being someone like Will Ferrell or Seth Rogen who not only makes the movie themselves but would see it as a good way to market the film. Of course, Ferrell has his own online comedy venture Funny or Die with which he recently used to promote “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t land one of the comedians.
“I’m hoping someone someday a filmmaker or an actor will get this and be able to poke fun at themselves and have fun with it,” Signore added. “It’s really all I want to do.”
Watch one of the latest Honest Trailers below.
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