Feature - Lights, camera, Action Talent Inc. 

A town full of action sports heroes needed an action talent agency

By Kara-Leah Grant

There is nothing more attractive to watch than a talented athlete at the top of their game, and if that athlete is into the so-called "extreme sports" there is an added edge of allure. Think Tony Hawk landing a 900 at the Summer X-Games two years ago. Or Seth Enslow attempting the world’s longest motorcycle jump in Apple Valley, California. Even with the resulting Frankenstein-like ear-to-ear scar, the man has sex appeal. And of course, there is nothing sexier than a woman like Sarah Burke spinning a 1080 – the first female skier to do so. The advertising world, always looking for a new way to grab the attention of the prized Generation X demographic, is in love with action sports heroes and Whistler is a town full of action sports heroes.

It is a trend that Sherry Newstead anticipated two years ago when she started Action Casting. A pro snowboarder who’d appeared in a couple of films and commercials, Newstead was working in the film industry at the time, mainly on the production side.

"Any time there was any type of sport involved they would send me out to find my friends who were really good at mountain biking or really good at snowboarding," explains Newstead from her home in Nordic. "I started thinking there is obviously a shortage of people who are qualified to do this or there is no one who really knows the sport side of thing. So I started Action Casting as a casting service to augment what was already happening down in the city."

When casting directors call an audition, a hundred or so eager participants show up with their portfolio and perform for the director. But, if you’re casting for a commercial that requires a snowboarder to hit a huge table top, or do a 40-foot rail slide, a couple of photographs and a studio visit are not going to tell you anything.

"If you are casting specifically for skiers or boarders or skaters or any of the alternate sports, I can go out and find them and put them on tape," says Newstead. "I’ll do a casting session just like a casting director in the city would except I do it on site, at the mountain bike park, or in the terrain park. Most casting directors won’t go on to the ski hill and film skiers, so that makes it a bit of a different service."

Audrey Scalbania is the casting director for MVP 3, which is currently in production in the Vancouver area. Three young snowboarders, Tamo Campos, Jamie MacFarlane and Dan Barker, were hired through Newstead’s Action Talent Inc. to perform as special ability extras on the movie.

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