CANMORE – Behind the English dubbed voice of a main character from the popular Chinese animated TV series and movies Boonie Bears, is none other than Canmore local Kieran Katarey.
During his high school years at Canmore Collegiate, Katarey, who voices the character Briar, was active in the school’s drama program until he graduated in 2010. He played major roles in its theatre productions such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Lord of the Rings.
“There’s a few other smaller things we did and then when I left Canmore, I just totally forgot about drama, acting and anything to do with it because I just didn’t think I could make a career out of it,” Katarey said.
From there, Katarey attended the University of Victoria and proceeded to work with Parks Canada, The Job Resource Centre and many different part-time jobs. Acting became a distant prospect over the years, but that changed when he decided to move to China last year.
“I decided to go to China to teach English," Katarey said. "So I taught English for six months and then I started getting a little bit bored, so I looked for jobs."
He then stumbled upon a job posting for voice acting with a company called FantaWild.
“It was crazy. One day I was teaching English and then the next day I was the main character in this show,” he said.
Boonie Bears illustrates the lives of two brother bears. Katarey who voices Briar, the eldest brother, is constantly looking out for his younger brother Bramble, who often gets into all sorts of trouble. Then there’s Vick, a logger who has become friends with the two bears throughout the series, yet his greed for money creates conflict within the trio.
For Katarey, who's acting experience was mainly onstage, voice acting proved to be challenging in its own right. With stage acting, facial expressions and body language are elements actors have to be aware of.
“When you’re doing voice acting, you don’t really have anything to build off," Katarey said. "Sometimes I’m looking at a screen, or I’m listening to Chinese voices to try and gauge the mood of the scene and you kind of have to create the image in your head and make yourself feel the right emotions when you’re acting."
Whenever Katarey steps into the recording booth, he brings aspects of stage acting with him in order to strengthen his voice acting.
“If I’m in the room and my character throws something, I will actually pretend to throw something. I think you need to use your imagination a little bit more,” he said.
In the latest movie, Boonie Bears: Blast into the Past, Briar, Bramble and Vick are sent back in time through a magical cave. The trio is separated and throughout the movie, is looking for a way back home.
Boonie Bears: Blast into the Past is only released in Quebec theatres, however audiences can find the previous Boonie Bears movies on Netflix.