Children in the Fremont area will have the opportunity to audition for roles in an upcoming short film.
An open casting call for two main roles and extras in “Maíz” will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, in the lobby of the Empress Theatre at 419 N. Main St.
Those auditioning are encouraged to arrive no later than noon, as auditions end at 1 p.m. sharp. Along with auditioning before a casting committee, participants can also submit a audition video from home.
Participants are encourage to bring a 8-by-10-inch picture of themselves and a resume to the casting call.
“Maíz,” written and co-directed by Fremont native Nate Johnson, tells the story of Otis, a young boy detasseling corn who meets a girl named Alejandra and their ensuing friendship.
“It’s about two outsider kids who are trying to reach each other and kind of the sacrifices you have to make on a journey to get to your destination,” Johnson said.
Now living in Los Angeles, Johnson, also known as Nate Sully, has always been involved in the arts, as his mother was an artist and his father received his degree in music.
“I played the piano, played trumpet in the band in high school, but my forté was singing,” he said. “So I was in musicals, and then I had a vocal scholarship to college.”
Johnson graduated from high school in 2003 and started attending college in California. After his graduation there, he made the choice to move to New Zealand.
“It was the Recession, plus the job prospects just wanted to know your Microsoft Suite skills,” he said. “So I was like, ‘This sounds terrible. I’m just going to go.’”
In New Zealand, Johnson worked as a white water rafting guide before moving to Australia to work as a cattle rancher.
“I was really on my own. I had to take care of myself. I had to make money to keep traveling all while still paying off student loans and I had some medical stuff I had to save for,” he said. “So it was teaching me to stand on my own two feet. It taught me how to keep cool and calm in stressful situations.”
After two years out of the country, Johnson moved to New York City, where he enrolled in a drama classes and a writer for Inc. Magazine.
“So it was a very humbling experience, because I had no practical, real-world experience, but it also taught me that people look for transferable skills, not just transferable titles,” he said. “So even though it was my first time pursuing a corporate career and I had no experience, I could bring what I did know into play.”
Johnson also started work as a voiceover actor and emcee and has worked with celebrities such as Ken Jeong, Venus Williams and the cast of “Shark Tank.”
Along with Victor Velle, Johnson will make his directorial debut with “Maíz,” produced by Katya Alexander. Although the film is his first behind the camera, he’s had experience writing with sketch comedy and blogging while traveling.
With “Maíz,” Johnson said he wanted to paint a “rich story in a small town.”
“People, when it’s a small town in the Midwest, if they think of it at all, they don’t usually imagine much going on there,” he said. “But kids have a rich imagination, so they kind of fill that world up, which is what will be happening here.”
With the film’s two main characters, Johnson said he knew he wanted to tell a slice-of-life, coming-of-age story of two misfits who didn’t feel like they belonged.
“There’s just something about writing from a kid’s perspective, and I’ll be excited for what the kids have to bring to the film,” he said. “It’s just fun to explore.”
While the child actors will most likely be between the ages of 10 and 14, Johnson said he encourages participants of all ethnicities to audition to represent the diversity of Fremont.
Callbacks will take place a few days to a week after auditions, with the casting choices being made by July 4. Johnson said shooting for the film will take place Aug. 21 and 22.
Although “Maíz” will be a film meant for adults, Johnson said he encourages children to have fun with the audition in interacting with other participants.
“It’s a chance for these kids to be in front of a real crew; it’s going to be a chance for them to be on film,” he said. “So I just want to give them an opportunity that I would have loved to have when I was their age.”
For more information on the film’s casting, as well as a list of available roles and auditions scenes, email Johnson at email@example.com.