Having produced and directed projects in over 15 different languages might have you wondering ‘how do they do it?’ and while some of our team members may not be native speakers of every language, we quickly become familiar with them. When we begin a project, whether the language is one we’re fluent in, familiar with, or our first encounter with, there are always rewards and challenges.
The BRAND’S® “Health and Beauty Secret” TV commercial we produced this past spring had us working on Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese versions. We became so immersed in those languages, that even some non-speakers in the office caught themselves speaking Cantonese, Mandarin, or Vietnamese at home!
A special part about working with multiple languages is seeing how quickly you recognize words and hearing distinctions in accents. Some people may not realize that just as in America, there are varying accents and pronunciations that give away where that person grew up speaking their language. When casting for BRAND’S® “Health and Beauty Secret,” our task was to find talent with a neutral sounding Mandarin accent, which is not indicative of a specific region. The same language can be spoken, but there are different accents and with our understanding of their accents, we are able to cast the desired voices.
Our producer/director, Thien A. Pham, describes the most rewarding aspect of producing a video in another language as, “…seeing first-hand how though we may come from different cultural backgrounds, we share many similarities. Human emotions are generally expressed in a pretty universal manner from facial expressions to body gestures.”
No matter the type of project we are working on, there is always a challenge or two we encounter. Sometimes, when translating from English to another language, words and sentences can be longer. Thien explains his biggest challenge, “…is making sure we’re capturing linguistic authenticity as well as delivering the right cultural punch. This is especially the case when working with adapted ad copy where it is an art to retain the original intent of the copy while making sure it resonates culturally.” Without losing meaning, we are able to let our creativity shine in order to come up with the best way to communicate the linguistic message.
At the end of the day, nothing is more satisfying to us than seeing our project come alive and telling a story to an audience. Any challenges we face are far outweighed by the lessons we learn and stories shared with us from cast and crew members.
Browse through our portfolio and witness the diversity we’ve created for the screen. Each language we have learned and worked on is just another reason why every culture matters.
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