The Merger call-out for Wagga silver screen talent

THE MERGER NEEDS YOU: Damian Callinan and the team behind The Merger want to put Wagga residents on screen. Picture: Les Smith
THE MERGER NEEDS YOU: Damian Callinan and the team behind The Merger want to put Wagga residents on screen. Picture: Les Smith

The team behind coming feature film The Merger are on the hunt for local talent, advertising for a slew of parts including a major role. 

Wagga-born director Mark Grentell says with all the extras there will be hundreds of roles for locals in the film.

“It’s going to be a huge thing for the city,” Mr Grentell said. 

“In Backyard Ashes, we were casting for a backyard cricket match. This will be entire football fields.” 

In the second casting call-out, directors have called for a boy between nine to 12, men aged between 17 and 40 and culturally diverse residents aged nine to 90. 

Stephen Holt, who played Norm in Backyard Ashes, has thrown his hat in the ring, auditioning in the preliminary round. 

“I think it’s very relevant and topical. It’s a nice story, we need to fight these old stereotypes, racism and that kind of culture,” Mr Holt said. 

The film follows a footy coach who takes the community and himself on a journey of change as he recruits asylum seekers for a team. 

Mr Holt grew up playing footy in Leeton and said the script resonates. 

“I recognise the characters. You see yourself, your family members, the people who ran the club,” he said. 

He said there’s a great tradition of using humour to “look and laugh at ourselves” in Australian film, both critiquing and saluting Aussie values. 

Mr Holt is encouraging his 12-year-old son Toby to apply for the part of Neil. 

Neil’s role is pivotal to the film, and will require depth as well as a sense of humour.

Mr Grentell said he’d love for someone from Wagga to score the part, but it’s open to anyone. 

He said this is a great opportunity to get into the industry, with many local crew and camera men going on to score further jobs after working on Backyard Ashes in 2013. 

Mr Holt said the talent pool in Wagga is deep and many acting and theatre production students from CSU have gone on to make it big.

“It’s really another step forward for Wagga and country communities,” he said. 

Auditions will be held on Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9 in Wagga.