Justin Lundin, Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
A dragon, a hypnotist and a historian—Justin Lundin has represented them all.
Since he was a teenager, Lundin, an accounting major at Sy Syms School of Business, has dabbled as a freelance voiceover artist, carefully cultivating and transforming his voice to anchor hundreds of projects ranging from movie trailers and audio books to advertisements and even birthday messages.
Lundin, a senior from Detroit, Michigan, sat down with YU News to talk about his passion for voiceovers, accounting and Judaism.
Q: How did you discover this talent?
A: When I was in high school, I’d hear movie trailers being narrated—some guy saying, “This summer…” or “…in one epic drama.” I thought those were such cool voices. I was especially intrigued by the trailer to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which played off the tremendous contrast between two styles of voiceover in the trailer itself. The first narrator had a very posh, British voice, and then all of a sudden it switched into the standard movie trailer voice—the voice that sounds like it’s coming from a seven-foot tall man who’s been smoking cigarettes since childhood. For some reason that gripped me and I started trying to get that voice.
I would actually practice and try to get my voice to that level. I was very much into filmmaking in high school, so I’d use my voice for films and documentaries that I made for school.
The first time I did professional voiceover work was during my two years studying in Israel. I was put in contact with two production companies and one of them in particular coached me a lot. They taught me how to work with different tones of voices and enunciation, how to get yourself into the character and mood of each particular project.
Q: What kind of projects have you taken on?
A: When I came to Yeshiva University, I started doing voiceover work online. A friend directed me to a website where people provide creative services for five dollars. I get clients from all over the place: introductions to audio books, movie trailers, low-budget films, video games. I did the intro video to an iPhone app video game where I had to do a voice similar to Gandalf the Grey’s: “Once upon a time, in a far away land…” I’ve also worked for hypnotists who wanted a low, soothing, organic voice.
Lately I’ve been doing some book trailers for a client and I’m hoping to narrate entire audio books for him. I’ve been trying to get into the audio book industry for awhile because it offers more of a stable income. You just have one project and you work on it. With big hits, the publishing companies go to talent agencies for voiceover work. But smaller, lower-budget authors and publishing companies try to find lone rangers like me who do work online. In this case, I was working directly with the author.
Q: Who are your heroes in the field?
A: Don LaFontaine! They called him “The Voice of God.” He narrated thousands of movie trailers. The nature of his voice influenced the style in which people made their trailers. He was my main role model in the industry. I was also very impressed and inspired by Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice who got discovered.
Q: What was your favorite project to work on?
A: I once narrated a trailer for a documentary called “Radio Wars.” It was a professional project for a documentary with a serious budget which explored the radio industry in the U.S.
Q: How do you see this skill in light of your identity as a Jewish college student?
A: It’s something I’ve had to consider. On occasion I receive scripts or gigs that I have to decline because they don’t see eye-to-eye with my values. As a Jewish college student, values are something I have to consider. And there are grey areas. Should I compromise a little bit? If this could lead to work with a major client, do I want to say no?
I’ve also done some work in the Jewish world. My first professional voiceovers were for Jewish production companies: Merkaz Haredi, an Israeli trade school and Torah Live. I also did voiceovers for Chabad of Florida for awhile. I love to help out any Jewish organization.
Q: Have you used “the voice” at YU?
A: I helped make a Chanukah video that was also a promotion for a charity. And I do the intros for “Shield News,” YU’s Student News Broadcast.
Q: You’re an accounting major. How does that mesh with your passion for voiceover?
A: They couldn’t be more different. Voiceover is a very drama-oriented, artsy thing. People call voiceover performers “artists,” and I like that because it’s true. A lot of times you look at a script and you ask yourself: “What is the script asking for?” whereas accounting is raw numbers and facts.
At the same time, accounting is a very practical and interesting kind of knowledge. It helps me read and understand the news a little better and I find the structure of it and the math fulfilling in a certain way.
They’re not mutually exclusive, though. There’s a lot of work out there and it’s very easy to have a home studio now. I like to bring up my voiceover work during interviews for internships, even with accounting firms, because at these firms you’re dealing with clients and building up relationships, and in voiceover you do a lot of that.
Q: Why did you choose to attend YU?
A: Growing up I attended public school. My dad started becoming more religious and I started getting into Judaism as well. One of the big things for me in high school was the environment—I had to miss school for yom tov because school didn’t stop for Judaism.
I remember the guidance counselor in my school was always saying, “For each person in this class, there’s a college that was made for you.” I just didn’t think that was true for me. But when I discovered Yeshiva University I understood what she meant. Even though I had friends and had been in public school my whole life, I felt a little out of place. Here it just feels right. I can experience the academic rigor I was looking for in a Jewish environment. It’s where I needed to be the whole time.