MELROSE — Young Bronxites hoping to start their acting careers can do so by taking a quick trip to the Bronx Documentary Center.
The center, located at 614 Courtlandt Ave., is hosting auditions on Monday from 3 to 6 p.m. for Latino or multi-racial boys between ages 8 and 13 to play three lead roles in an upcoming film called "We The Animals," based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Justin Torres.
Director Jeremiah Zagar said that, although they are looking for actors throughout New York, he was excited about the possibility of casting someone from The Bronx, based both on the borough's demographics and its enthusiasm for the casting call.
"There are just huge Latin populations in The Bronx, and they’re open, and they’re receptive, and the kids are full of possibility and excitement," he said. "And that's what we're looking for."
"We The Animals" takes place during the early 1990s in rural upstate New York and tells the story of a mixed-race working class family’s struggles as seen through the eyes of 9-year-old Jonah, the youngest son.
The BDC auditions are for the role of Jonah and his two brothers, 12-year-old Manny and 11-year-old Joel, all of whom have a white mother and a Puerto Rican father in the novel.
Executive Producer Jeremy Yaches stressed that they were not necessarily looking for trained child actors to play these roles. Rather, they were just looking for kids who would fit the parts.
"We’re trying to go into the community, go into the schools, go into the after-school programs and meet kids who wouldn’t necessarily be going to the auditions, find somebody who has the natural ability to play the roles that we’re casting for," he said.
A previous round of auditions took place at the BDC on Feb. 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the filmmakers plan on returning to the borough for more tryouts in later February or March, according to Yaches. He encouraged people interested in trying out to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Casting should take place over the next three months, and filming should begin around June, Yaches said.
“We The Animals” is supported by the Sundance Institute Feature Film program, which has previously helped create Oscar-nominated films like "Whiplash" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and it is produced by Yaches and Christina King of Public Record.
Zagar said he hoped to find children for the roles who want to expand their horizons and whose parents want the same thing for them.
"That’s what the Bronx Documentary Center is about in a lot of ways. It’s about educating people in a community that’s underserved, and we’re about the same thing," he said. "And we’d like to bring the possibility of an acting role there."