Margarita Waldburger has gone from running around the noble and historic taverns of Madrid to selecting the voices that make Americans dream in their movie theaters. From Madrid to heaven… from Los Angeles. Her condition of emigrant has led her to appreciate the culture that one day she left behind, to experience the inevitable homesickness that is only cured by returning, to live incredible adventures, to study at the most prestigious music school in the world, to work with pop stars and finally to be part of the movie industry.
Behind Margarita's story lies passion, a lot of effort and a perennial smile that accompanies her in the land of opportunities. Without fear of anything, she has established herself in the American entertainment sector and she has a lot to tell us about it. Let's delve with her into the fascinating world of dubbing with the help of this young and talented dubbing casting director from Madrid.
The Journey Begins
Your family has always been linked to the world of restaurants for generations and owns some of the centuries-old taverns that are part of the history and idiosyncrasy of Madrid. What is it like growing up in taverns?
I remember spending a lot of time in them. It is a business that has been expanding over time. New places appear every year, although since I went to the United States I have lost touch with all that a little. The truth is that I never worked in them directly, but I am very aware of my father's dedication and the way in which he treats everyone in them. That has made me very human, the fact of knowing the waiters and their stories helps with that. I no longer know many of those who work in taverns, but I still remember the bar stories they told me when I was little. I love it.
It also made me appreciate the culture more. There is a lot of culture in bars, like the centuries-old paintings that hang on their walls and that fascinated me so much as a child. I remember asking myself: Who are all these people? I have realized all this here since in the United States there is not much history nor an excessive bar culture, so now I appreciate it much more than I did in Spain.
Did you ever feel like dedicating yourself to it?
No never. I was always interested in art. There is no precedent in my family, so I couldn't say where I got it from. When I was 7, I saw a concert or someone playing the celo. I remember it was a friend of a friend. I fell in love instantly and said to myself: I want to dedicate myself to this. Then I started my studies, I spent my adolescence between school and the conservatory and then university.
Have you had free time with so much studying?
The truth is that during my time at school and during the week, I didn't have any free time, not even the weekends, which I spent studying. Until I turned 18 I didn't have much free time. But the truth is that at university I not only discovered music, but also the music business and what is hidden behind the entertainment scene. In those first years of uni I did have more free time and it coincided with that moment in which you are still discovering yourself.
A Stop in Boston
How were your years in Boston?
My intention had always been to study music, but I didn't want to go to the conservatory in Madrid because it is very hard and there are not many opportunities, whether as a teacher or little else. My mother was the one who suggested Berklee to me. I didn't know what it was. When I entered her website I was amazed. I didn't know that a music university had so many options. At the conservatory they only teach you how to play the instrument and that's it. It does not exist beyond that and they forget about other important subjects such as business or, for example, orchestration for a film or things like that.
I feel like it has a lot less than the university I went to. There I took an entrance test with the cello and they accepted me. When you are accepted at an American university you declare your professional career until after your first year. That's when you choose what you're going to study. There, I realized that I didn't want to be a professional cellist since it was too much loneliness and effort. I wanted to be working with people and learn more things. I declared myself for the music business.
Fresh out of university you started to work with Brandi Carlille...
The music industry is not something theoretical but practical, so I started working with artists as quickly as I could. I started doing internships and I did four during my time at university and they were all in different categories, one was a publicist for artists, another was an organizer of musical sessions, another was a promoter of new artists and the last was management. I didn't have to manage artists, but I did assist the manager of an artist. This artist was in a very famous company and she managed many artists, they offered me to join as an assistant and I joined her online team. I arrived without knowing anything about anything and they welcomed me by taking me to a meeting with the person who would be Brandi's manager.
How was she?
It was great. Brandi was about to launch her own podcast. I helped her with various procedures and to prepare the launch and promotion of her program. I also assisted her in other types of issues. She receives hundreds of proposals for interviews and participation in events or charity. She was in charge of filtering what was convenient or not. And her manager taught me what would be worth it or not.
Have you given up on your musical ambitions?
No. I haven't left them. I want to return to them in the future, I miss music a lot. I really like the fact of still being linked to the entertainment industry and exploring the part of actors instead of artists. It is important to me the fact of to see both sides because at the end of the day, both are art and deep down it is being in what I studied, in the entertainment business.
Welcome to LA
How did you end up in the world of filming?
When I graduated from college and finished my internship, I decided to move to Los Angeles. In Boston, you only have the university and there is no entertainment industry at all. I came to LA for an internship at a record company. They didn't hire me, so I started looking for work until they hired me at Igloo Music, a post-production company that also specializes in music for films, shoots, mixes... The company also has a musical department and that made me happy. I love it, although I don't work there now, maybe in the future I'll move there. We have an annual contract with Netflix and we take care of filming in English for certain films and deal with deadlines that tend to be very difficult.
What are you looking for in a voice?
It depends on the gender and the country. What we look for in casting is first, not to always hire the same actors. Diversity is taken into account a lot here, so if it is a Korean series we have to select people from Korea who speak perfect English, who fit the genre and origin of the film and who are more or less of the same age as the character. That the voice is a little similar is a plus because it makes a difference. If there is an actor who is versatile, we love that because we get him to play his character at the same time and he can help us filling in the Walla, which is nothing other than the background voices, the murmur that you hear in the background in the typical bar scene, and with the typical one-sentence characters.
Another thing that I take into account as the organizer of the recording sessions is the flexibility of the actor to respond to the request to work with just one day's notice. That's a blessing considering we have to meet demanding delivery dates to the customer.
What kind of films do you work on?
We dub all types of films that come to us from abroad into English from platforms as Netflix or Amazon Prime. We always dub them into English. It is quite a collaborative work. There is no one to make the decisions, but consensus is sought among everyone. When we don't have time, sometimes we do hire a person to do the casting, but the normal thing is that we manage it ourselves.
How long does it take to make a dubbing?
A 90-minute film takes about two and a half weeks.
What is your favorite film of all the ones you have worked on?
It's going to be a Spanish one because since I've been away I miss Spain a lot and every time a Spanish film arrives, the truth is that I get very excited. I had a great time in Culpa Mía.
What is the film you would have liked to work on?
Nowhere, they just released it on Netflix and it's great.
How do you see the Spanish dubbing?
I see it in good shape. There is not a big difference between the dubbing that is done in English here in the United States.
Living the Dream
What do you like most and least about LA?
Phew, LA… this city. Well, I really like the industry and the work you can find and the many opportunities it offers. The issue of roles is a bit annoying, but it is true that companies give many opportunities and also give a lot of value to those who come from outside. I feel that they are very open to new ideas outside their country and in general there is a lot of work, you can earn and live very well. The negative: there is no life balance. Everything is work and I can't find the quality of life. I can't coordinate with my friends to go out for a beer, for example. I want to walk and there is nothing beautiful or historic in this city and there is a lot of traffic. That is hard.
What is the most difficult part of the emigration process?
The clash of cultures and the coldness that usually exists. I miss things that I didn't appreciate at all before, like culture. I see my migrant experience as something temporary because I have decided to be here to grow professionally for a few years and then, I would like to return to enjoy the quality of life and being in the process for contributing everything I have learned here because I want my country to grow.
What things would you take from the USA and what things would you bring from Spain?
From Spain to the United States, I would take a little more friendliness, beauty in the buildings, more bars, more sun and less traffic. And from the USA to Spain I would take the opportunities, the innovations.nes and the risks they take here by being more open to the new. Discipline is also something I would love to have there.
+ Stories in Urban Moon