By Claire Underwood (Boj creator/director)
In early 2015 I went on an amazing world tour with my Pesky partner David Hodgson (Boj co-creator/producer) and our daughter Poppy (who voices Rupa). During our visit to Australia we spent a couple of days visiting our young Aussie voice talent in Wollongong.
It was very unusual to work so closely with an actor without actually meeting them, but that’s how it was when I directed Ziggy Badans, the voice of Boj.
When coming up with an Australian child character, I hadn’t thought of the logistical issues of finding and recording the voice. We initially tried to find a child in the UK with an Australian accent – but very quickly found that there aren’t a huge amount to choose from and that children lose their accents very quickly at that age. So we knew we had to find our Boj down under!
We put out calls to theatre schools and agents and had many auditions emailed to us. But when we heard Ziggy, we knew he was the one! His voice was expressive and full of character, his reading and intelligence were way beyond his 9 years, and most importantly he was committed to the hard work that was required. Here’s his first audition…
Ziggy did have a few speech issues which we were worried about, as some of his pronunciation wasn’t as clear as it needed to be. We flagged this up with his agent and parents and within days they had enlisted a speech therapist… and within weeks Ziggy had ironed out the mis-pronounced sounds and was good to go!
Ziggy’s Dad, Glen, also played a vital role in making the production run smoothly. He’s a radio producer at Wave FM in Wollongong and so had access to professional recording facilities.
During productions Ziggy would go to Wave FM once a week and I would direct him over the phone from the UK. We had Skype running too, just so we could see each other. Altogether we spent over 80 hours doing these phone sessions which Glen would record.
Ziggy worked really hard in the lead up to each recording, familiarising himself with the script and learning the songs. He was incredibly dedicated, professional and full of Boj-a-boom ideas about how lines should be delivered! He was a dream to work with!
Finally meeting Ziggy, Glen and the rest of their family was wonderful. They showed us some highlights of the ‘Gong’ – and Poppy and Ziggy shared their love of Minecraft!
Ziggy wasn’t the only person we had to meet in Wollongong. Sam Dyson played Boj’s cousin Hoj in the 22 minute special episode. In 2014 we had put out a call on social media to find another younger boy – who could also record at Wave FM. Six year old Sam was our favourite, his voice was so adorable!
When I put Sam’s parents in touch with Glen to arrange the recording they realised they were distantly related, via a relative from another state. Art mirroring real life – or is it the other way round?! That made for a great big family Boj-ey Aussie get together on our trip – one I won’t forget in a hurry!
Ziggy is growing up fast – his voice is getting deeper by the day! And he now has a passion and incredible talent for technology. I’m sure he’s destined for great things so keep an ear out for that amazing name – Ziggy Badans!!
In the meantime – here he is back in 2014 – showing us how it’s done!