You've heard it countless times. As the trailer starts, a sonorous, commanding voice describes the setting of the movie and the hero's dilemma. And two things are always the same: the voice begins by saying, "In a world…" and the voice is always male.
With the exception of the trailer for "Gone in 60 Seconds," which featured a female narrator over 13 years ago, voice-overs for film previews have been almost exclusively performed by men. Why is that? Lake Bell ("No Strings Attached") was so intrigued by that question and the community of voice actors that she wrote, directed, and stars in a film about it, called, naturally, "In a World…"
"The male voice is just deemed, 'the omniscient voice,'" Bell told Yahoo! Movies in a phone interview. "Whether it's because we coin God as a He, and it could [be] that sort of culturally significant, or it’s just literally the resonance and the are easier and more authoritative to hear. Which both are interesting conversations, and ones that I wanted to explore in the movie."
Bell added, "It’s naturally fodder for comedy, because obviously hearing a bunch of people taking on these omniscient, important, authoritative sounds while their personal lives are perhaps less perfectly tuned is an interesting place to start for comedy."
Watch the exclusive trailer premiere for 'In a World..."
In the movie, Bell plays a vocal coach with aspirations of becoming a narrator for movie trailers, but that puts her in direct competition with the established king of trailers, who also happens to be her father.
It's a field Bell herself has always aspired to join. "Since [I was] a little girl, I was always obsessed with accents and sounds and people’s voices," Bell said. She recalled that when she was young she would fly back and forth between her divorced parents homes in Florida and New York: "I would get to know all the stewardesses, so that I could coerce them to let me do the security announcement as an unaccompanied minor."
"I love the idea that you aren’t judged by what you look like, but you can literally take on any social group or age or gender, even," Bell said. "So you have this beautiful tool that you can manipulate and play with and express yourself with." And she worries that young women today are not utilizing the power of their own voice.
"I’m so profoundly affected by this vocal virus, this pandemic of sexy baby talk that girls take on… it’s rampant and it’s such a shame because the voice is such a profound tool for communication and how you are perceived." Bell added, "You can really diminish your self-worth by taking on an affectation that works against you."
Bell certainly isn't diminishing her own self-worth in any way. The film is her directorial debut, and when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year she was awarded the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for her script. "In a World" opens in limited release on August 9.