EL CENTRO — Movie crews from Warner Bros. completed local filming Wednesday for the upcoming movie “Dudes and Arms” after hiring over 200 local residents as extras and criss-crossing the Valley while bringing much-needed commerce to hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
One month ago, Central Casting Agency came to Imperial Valley and held an open casting call for the movie which stars celebrated actors Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Moneyball”) and Miles Teller (“Whiplash”, “Fantastic Four”).
Based on real events, the comedy follows two friends (Hill and Teller) living in Miami who were contracted by the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. The movie is being produced by big names such as Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”), who also serves as director, and megastar Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”, The Hangover”).
The casting call held at Imperial Valley Mall on March 30 generated much excitement among Valley natives looking for a new experience. This newspaper followed up with Casting Director Kristan Berona of Central Casting to get the inside scoop on the filming process that took place in the Valley.
Berona shared that the crew worked locally on a closed set for eight days. Currently, they are on set back in Los Angeles and will soon be heading to Miami. Filming for the movie began in Romania, continued in Imperial Valley, and will span the United States in Las Vegas and Miami before moving to Morocco to finish.
Although the actors and film crews were highly visible during the eight days of filming, with production trucks splashed with the Warner Bros. logos sighted all around, Berona said the agency purposefully did not advertise its presence to the locals.
Bound by contract with Warner Bros., the casting agency was not allowed to reveal much about the film, but Berona did share that the movie title had just been changed from “Arms and the Dudes” to “Arms and Dudes.” Local extras hired for the film fulfilled a military role, she said, and after casting over 200 Valley residents, the agency was pleased with the results.
“Everyone showed up and they did exactly what was asked of them,” Berona said. “We were very happy with everybody we cast. It looked great.”
Blockbuster actors Jonah Hill and Miles Teller joined the crew for filming locally and the actors, along with the entire crew, ate at Valley restaurants and shopped at local businesses.
“We took up all the hotel rooms available,” Berona admitted with a laugh. “We really had a wonderful experience there and would be happy to go back.“
Jason Cardenas, an El Centro native, was selected as a main background actor in a more prominent role than the other extras. He played a Marine, and was one of 12 selected for this role. His character was part of a Special Forces team whose purpose was to save main actors, Hill and Teller, he said.
Cardenas was able to meet both Hill and Teller, and said the entire crew treated all the extras kindly, providing cooked meals and constantly supplying them with water to stay hydrated. He said his scenes were filmed in a secret location in the desert off Wheeler Road.
Cardenas said he views his small role as a “great foot in the door” experience, and he appreciates that Director Todd Phillips took our small town and put in on the map. Playing a military role in the movie held special meaning for him, said Cardenas, as both his grandfathers served in the Vietnam War.