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Casting Louisiana Kids for ‘Troop Zero’

MEGHAN DUBITSKY
BY MEGHAN DUBITSKY  |  FEBRUARY 24, 2020
Principal actors and background in Troop Zero (Amazon)

Earlier this year, Amazon released Troop Zero, its first streaming-only feature film debut. In the summer of 2018, Central Casting Louisiana cast Background Actors, Stand-Ins, and doubles for the film.

Troop Zero follows a group of elementary school students led by Christmas Flint (McKenna Grace) who join the Birdie Scouts in hopes of winning a chance to record a message for the Voyager Golden Record. Viola Davis, who produced the film, and Allison Janney also star as Birdie troop leaders.

The film takes place in rural Georgia in 1977, but shot mostly in the North Shore of Louisiana. Central Casting held an open registration to find North Shore locals to work on the film, while also using registered background from the New Orleans area.

Louisiana Casting Director Mary H. said the 1970s-setting provided some unique challenges for casting Background Actors and doubles for the film.

“When we filmed, contrasting ombre hair was really popular,” Mary said. “Our Background Actors with ombre hair had to come to set with their hair in a 1970s style that hid the ombre. We booked a lot of minors on the film and modern braces are sleeker than those in the ‘70s. The directors [Bert & Bertie], liked using our background for their reactions on camera so we had to make sure we didn’t send too many children with braces.”

Sizes for costumes are also a factor when casting, especially when it comes to period pieces. Troop Zero’s wardrobe department provided clothing and fit every Background Actor who appeared on camera. Production designer Laura Fox and costume designer Caroline Eselin-Schaefer created a unique look for the film, which included incorporating yellow tones into costumes. According to Clothes on Film, Eselin-Shaefer and her team searched for the perfect wardrobe at vintage clothing and costumes stores in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta.

“The thing with kids and movies . . . is that you need lots of multiples for the [principal minors] and photo doubles,” Eselin-Shaefer told Clothes on Film. “We would find classic baseball t-shirts in sports stores, reissue classic sneakers like Nike Cortez, other little sports shorts – things that stand the test of time so we could multiply. The food fight and obstacle course scenes gave me heart attacks!”

Doubles are important when working with children because states have laws for how many hours a minor can work in a day. Photo doubles allow productions to continue to film when the principal actor is not available or has other commitments. Since photo doubles often need to match an actor like they could be their twin, Casting Directors have to look for children with the exact same hair, height, and body type.

“A lot of times, wigs are not provided so you have to find a child with the exact hair or find a child to alter their hair to match the actor’s,” Mary said. “Thankfully, for the main photo doubles, wigs were provided. The good news is that we filmed during summer so we did not have to compete with the photo double's schooling. Shout out to the parents who were available to bring their child to set for eight hours a day!”

Another exiting part of casting Background Actors for Troop Zero is that many of them were featured on camera or given lines on set. The Louisiana casting team created Birdie Scout troops with special skills that were featured during performances at the Jamboree talent show. There were also girls in the Jamboree audience who were upgraded with lines during Troop Zero’s performance. You never know when an opportunity will pop up on set!

Is your child interested in acting? Register them with Central Casting to work as Background Actors and doubles on movies and TV shows. Just bring your minor and their required I-9 documentation to a Minors Registration session at your local office. Check our calendar for registration times and details.

Categories: Central Cast

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