Frank Meschkuleit has been a puppeteer and voiceover artist in Toronto for 30 years. During that time he’s lent his dulcet tones and nimble fingers to everything from animals (hippos, chickens, beavers) to otherwordly-based beings (vampires, aliens, killer dolls) to inanimate objects (wallpaper, chairs, shoes) and he’s clearly had a ball doing it. “I have a job that rewards me for playing,” said Meschkuleit. “I like to play. It’s fun!”
Meschkuleit studied physical theatre for two years, and got his professional start after stumbling into an audition with Jim Henson’s company. His audition was peculiar enough to get a few days work on the Sesame Street feature film Follow That Bird (writer note: if you look hard enough during the parade scene at the end you might just see a 9-year-old me in the crowd).
From that moment on, it was pretty much decided that this was the career for him. “Once I saw adults playing for a living,” he explained “there was no turning back.”
From there he went on to lend his talents to children’s’ television shows like Fraggle Rock and Dragon, as well as working as a puppeteer on various Toronto-shot films like the recent prequel to The Thing, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Bride of Chucky and Alien vs. Predator.
Or as he describes it: “On a daily basis, I pray to the Great God of Freelance Performers, “Residualotta”, that an opportunity will come my way to audition for work that will highlight my meager skill set. And when the phone don’t ring, I do my best to create work that allows me to puppeteer things.”
Currently Meschkuleit can be heard as the voice of Toopy on the popular kids program Toopy and Binoo and works on stage as a puppeteer, performing for both kids and adults. He’s also incredibly proud to be a part of the Canadian entertainment industry. “I know from the last thirty years of working in Canadian TV and Film that Canada has terrific crews. Great work gets done here because of them. I doff my cap!”
It shouls also be noted that, if someone were to make an animated movie of his life, he’d insist that Tom Waits voice his character. He explains, “Firstly because I’d probably get to meet him, and second because that barking-drunk, hurt animal voice of his compels me to listen.”
Five Questions ““ Lightning Round
Atom Egoyan or Bruce McDonald? Bruce McDonald would be all over Atom Egoyan purdy quick. In The Octagon.
Vampires or Zombies? If I had to have dinner with one, it’d have to be the Vampire. It likely wouldn’t end well either way, but I love a good conversation, and with the zombies it’s all “Aaaaggghhh Brains !” After 20 minutes of that, I’d be asking for the bill.
Disney or Pixar? I grew up with Disney, but for my money, Pixar. Brilliant animation, fresh choreography, peerless voice work.
The Muppets or Fraggle Rock? I worked on Fraggle Rock, so it’s the one for me!
Movie Snacks: Sweet or Savoury? I can eat a bag of popcorn the size of my head if the movie’s good. If it’s not good, hit me with some red Twizzlers and I’ll make it through anything.
Each month in 5 Questions, we talk to some of the Toronto film industry’s unsung heroes: the people slogging away behind the scenes to help make your life just a little more entertaining.