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Dozens turn out for open casting call for Disney film

Posted: October 17, 2013 6:35 p.m.
Updated: October 17, 2013 6:35 p.m.

Sports coordinator Mark Ellis, left, describes how filiming will take place for runners if they are picked to appear in the Disney film "McFarland." Runners tried out for about 100 parts as cross country runners for the film at The Master's College's Reece Field on Thursday. Signal photo by Dan Watson

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SANTA CLARITA - Mark Ellis paced the field at The Master’s College on Thursday while more than a dozen men stood nearby, waiting for a tryout in the form of a workout.

“Nobody’s going to get rich and nobody’s going to get famous, but you could get paid to run and there are worse thing than that,” Ellis told the group.

Dozens of people turned out throughout the day Thursday to take part in an open casting call for the movie “McFarland,” a Disney film inspired by the success of a cross country team from the San Joaquin Valley town of the same name.

Ellis, with help from Zach and Amie Schroeder, who both coach at The Master’s College, ran interested individuals through a series of drills to see who would be suited to serve as extras in the film.

“I think it’s really good for the local community,” Zach Schroeder said. “It’s a great opportunity to have a job, to get paid going right into the holidays.”

Ellis, who is the sports coordinator for the film, said he needed to find about 105 men who can serve as extras, making up the teams running against McFarland.

Those selected will take part in a series of races for the film, one of which is expected to be shot at Castaic Lake, Ellis said.

Because of the filming schedule, Ellis said it was important to find people who can jump right in.

“Nobody’s supposed to run 12 hours a day, let alone for three days straight,” Ellis said with a smile. “Welcome to Hollywood.”

Valencia resident Oscar Orozco was running by The Master’s College when he saw a commotion on the field. So he suspended his workout temporarily to see what was going on.

Upon learning that it was a casting call for a movie, he decided to give it a shot, since he was dressed for the part already.

“There are not too many movies out there that are about running,” he said as he took a break from stretching. “So I thought it would be fun to be a part of that if I can.”

Some took much longer routes to get involved in the casting call. Nathan Seyler came all the way from Scottsdale, Ariz., to respond to the call.

Seyler said he ran for a few years at The Master’s College and was told of the opportunity by his old coach.
“I figured I could try out and visit at the same time,” he said. “It was kind of double duty.”

Zach Schroeder led participants in a few strides on the field as Ellis and other coaches stood nearby to keep an eye on form.

After a few trips up and down the field, Ellis pulled aside some select individuals and had them do more specific drills, including high-knees and bounds, to get a better idea of their running form.

“Golly, that’s a good group,” Ellis said enthusiastically after the drills finished.

“I can tell you right now I’m going to put some of you on camera,” he said as the runners gathered around him. “Some of you are going to be in a movie.”

In a fitting end, the casting for the sports movie ended much as a sports practice would, with the group standing in a circle, putting their hands in the middle and joining together in a chant.

“One, two, three, McFarland!” the group shouted.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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