A Trip To The DMV-An Interview With “Flash” & Raymond Persi #ZootopiaBluray
I have to admit, that when I saw that I was going to interview Raymond Persi, a storyboard artist at Walt Disney Studios and the voice of Flash, everyone’s favorite DMV worker from Disney’s Zootopia, available tomorrow to bring home on digital download or Blu-ray HD, was more than a little excited because after all, who doesn’t love Flash but when I discovered that I not only got to talk to Raymond, but Flash himself, suddenly I was the giddy like a little kid getting to meet their favorite character at Disneyland.
I have to admit, it was akin to meeting one of the biggest Hollywood stars of all time and Raymond Persi is indeed a star in his own right. Even though you may not know his name, I can guarantee you that you know his work, and his voice. Raymond was raised in the hills above Disney and shared that growing up that the studios were his view and even watched when they were building some of the buildings when he was a kid never knowing at the time that he would someday be working in these very buildings. This gifted animator, director, screenwriter, producer, storyboard artist and actor with many credits to his name but the one that everyone will now and forever know him for is as the voice of Flash.
Coming To Disney By Way of the Simpsons:
“Before coming here, I was a director on The Simpsons when Rich Moore who’s the director of Wreck It Ralph, came here to direct Wreck It Ralph, he brought a few of us over that were directors on The Simpsons to kind of mix with the story artists here to see what would come of it.”
From Simpsons To Zootopia and Beyond:
“I started as a story artist on Wreck It Ralph and then after that, I went on to Frozen and then I worked on two short films, Get A Horse with Mickey Mouse and Feast and so then I eventually worked with Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer as the voice of Flash in Zootopia. Just to tell you how it happened for me, basically, what happens is a lot of times when we are creating our rough versions of the films just to sort of test it, we don’t really know who’s going to be cast yet. We don’t even know if sometimes characters are going to stay in the film, so they’ll bring in a lot of artists and other people from work to come, they’ll say, come in the recording room. We need you to do some scratch. You might be at your desk working and then the next thing you know, you’re a gorilla or at least the voice of one. You do the voice, go back to storyboarding and every once in a while, they decide that they like what the voice sounds like and they’ll stick in there. In, in my particular case, I get to be the, that little annoying brat Gene from Wreck It Ralph and then the zombie from Wreck It Ralph and then I was in Get a Horse I was the other little annoying character, the horn and then what was cool was I got be horse in doing a couple little laughs here and there. But what was fun was that they got Walt Disney to do the voice. They used old audio of Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse for that short, so it was fun. I got to share a laugh with Walt Disney. That was kind of neat. And then for Frozen, one thing was cool, I just had one little line in there, but the guy talking, his wife calls after him and she says like, faster, Persi, so they used my last name which is kind of fun little treat for me. and then for Feast, I didn’t do any voice work in it, but my dogs did. I have four little Boston Terriers, so we brought them in and we gave them food and we made them grunt so that we could use their little voices for the dog in Feast.”
On The Origins of Flash:
“What’s cool about this character was when you’re asked to do a sloth, what’s your first instinct? You think I’m going to talk slowly, but Rich and the Head of Story, Jim Reardon had a different idea. They wanted him to speak normally, but with just a lot of pauses in between, so that was fun. I sat down and we recorded scratch for half an hour or so and then I guess my voice sounded stupid enough because they kept it. When we’re still working on the story and we’ll do something a dozen times or more over the course of two years to get the story right. We’ll show it to everybody in the studio and have everybody critique it to really ask the tough questions to make sure that the movie’s going to be good. “
Now My Mother Knows What I Do
“Well for the, for the first time, I think my mother understands what I do for a living. And then my nephews and my nieces, they like it, so that’s fun. What’s great, is that they’re really hyper, but when I go there, they want to walk really slowly] so it’s a great game for me because then I don’t get tired. As far as my nieces and nephews telling their friends what I do, they’re young enough that they try to tell their friends and their friends just sort of stare at me and just kind of wander off. They don’t make the connection yet.”
So what’s up next for Raymond? This fall you’ll be seeing Raymond’s talents when Inner Workings, the short that plays with Disney’s Moana, comes to the big screen on November 23 of this year. The short is the story of the internal struggle between a man’s Brain—a pragmatic protector who calculates his every move, and his Heart—a free-spirited adventurer who wants to let loose and it is yet another inventive combination of 3D animation and traditional, hand-drawn animation. In 2018, we can look forward to Persi’s handiwork in Walt Disney Animation Studios GIangatic. Set in Spain during the Age of Exploration, Gigantic follows adventure-seeker Jack as he discovers a world of giants hidden within the clouds. He hatches a grand plan with Inma, a 60-foot-tall, 11-year-old girl, and agrees to help her find her way home. But he doesn’t account for her super-sized personality-and who knew giants were so down to earth?
When I asked him if he had a dream character to voice, Raymond was quick to say “I don’t know. I mean, I think I got to do some pretty good ones. I think I’m pretty happy.” And we couldn’t agree more.
And now for part of our interview with the one and only Flash:
Coming up tomorrow, a look behind the scenes of Zootopia and on Friday, come with us as we step inside the recording booth to voice our own character in Zootopia where anyone can be anything!
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Disclosure: I have been invited by Disney to cover this media event. All material and expenses for this event have been provided courtesy of Walt Disney Studios but all opinions my own.