It’s not a typical Hollywood North casting call, because the actors’ performances aren’t meant for public viewing.
Calgary film and TV casting director Rhonda Fisekci is seeking more than 100 Spanish-speakers aged 18 to 65 to portray mayors, police, interpreters and villagers during a Canadian Forces war game near Edmonton next month. Candidates, who must have lived in Canada for at least two years, can apply Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Park Inn and Suites at West Broadway and Laurel in Vancouver.
“Now that we're not in Afghanistan any longer, [the Canadian Forces] want to continue the same type of training exercises that we have been doing, but we need to provide soldiers with a language barrier so they can work through interpreters,” Fisekci told the Courier. “They've chosen Spanish this time as the language. We're doing nondescript little villages up in the base at Wainwright, Spanish villages.”
Transportation, accommodation and meals are provided. Those who are assigned a specific character role will be paid $290 a day, while the rest will get $195 a day. The average day at the training centre is 12 hours, with one paid day off. Scenarios run the gamut, from replacement of a water well to an attack simulation.
“They may also have a heavy special effects day, say a bomb has gone off in the village. They will dress the set accordingly and they will use the special effects, live guts and gore to make it look as realistic as possible,” Fisekci said. “The soldiers won't know what they're walking into, they'll have no idea that's what the event is of the day.”
The Oct. 11 to 25 exercise, dubbed Maple Resolve, comes in the wake of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s six-day August mission to Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras.
Lt. Bonnie Wilken, spokeswoman for the $500 million Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre at the 640-square-kilometre base in Wainwright, denied the exercise is meant to prepare Canadian soldiers for a future mission in Latin America.
“It's not training our soldiers for a specific area,” Wilken said. “It's just training.”
Fisekci is sub-contracted by the Calgary branch of Walnut Creek, Calif.-headquartered Allied Container Systems Inc., whose clients also include the United States army, navy, air force and marines. Since 2009, ACS has received $38.26 million in Department of National Defence contracts, mostly for “cross-cultural training.”
The ACS website says it builds “realistic training facilities for soldiers, creating shelter or medical facilities for disaster victims or populating live training environments with indigenous role players and realism effects.”
“From urban operations training environments to habitable structures, ACS offers turnkey solutions for military, law enforcement, disaster relief organizations, educational facilities and businesses that are quick to deploy, cost-effective and efficiently operated," the website said.
Last January, ACS finished a 274-acre, $170 million “Military Operations in Urban Terrain” mock city with 1,560 structures in the Mojave Desert at Twentynine Palms, Calif., where 15,000 troops can train at any one time.