The San Diego Port District is hiring two comic actors who can talk trash but stay clean.
“Trash Trooper 1” and “Trash Trooper 2” are the latest incarnations of Trash Trooper Troy, aka San Diego’s Luke DePron, a 33-year-old fitness coach who stars in a YouTube video viewed 13,000 times.
It’s all part of the port’s #ThatsMyBay anti-litter campaign, recently launched with the aim of keeping pollution out of San Diego Bay and improving water quality.
A recent posting from Casting Network’s Los Angeles office called for two bilingual males in their mid-20s to late 30s whose fluent Spanish is “Mexico City dialect.” They’re promised $250 and an agent fee for up to four hours of work. Or $500 and the agent fee for a day’s work.
Sept. 20 “is a firm date for the first event [and] the others will be given when required by the Port of San Diego,” said the notice.
The first use of Trash Trooper Troy featured DePron wearing a 1950s-style short-pants ranger outfit and dark sunglasses.
“Properly disposed trash. It’s not my problem — it’s our problem,” he says while opening up a trash can to toss some paper litter snagged out of the air. “It ends up in the ocean and hurts the fishies and destroys the bay.”
(A companion video with a green-and-yellow monkey doll called Hang-On Hank makes a similar point — giving tips on how to keep car and truck litter from getting into the bay.)
But a commenter named Randy Phillips was not impressed.
“For whatever the budget was for this [ranger] commercial, we could have cleaned up a lot of trash,” Phillips wrote on YouTube, later commenting: “I run a business with the port of San Diego. I pay over $1,000 to the port every month.”
He called the Trash Trooper Troy commercial “a little frivolous.”
The port is taking the campaign seriously, though.
On Thursday, the port’s first-ever Service Day, about 300 employees and volunteers will gather at five sites to pick up garbage in and around the bay, says port spokeswoman Tanya Castaneda.
She says the port in the past year hosted 1,100 volunteers in three annual cleanup events where 17,800 pounds of trash were removed from San Diego Bay and the land around it.
The port is carrying out its Water Quality Improvement Plan, whose 10-year goals include having 95 percent of its storm drain inlets rated as trash-free (also called “Optimal”).
“Currently, just 67 percent of our storm drains are rated as Optimal,” Castaneda said.
It’s a data-driven project that already has at least five years of figures on how much trash is collected in Port parks before and after special events.
“We will continue monitoring this to see if levels of litter decrease,” she said, and staff will look at how much trash is collected at future cleanup events. “We are also monitoring views, shares and comments on social media.”
Castaneda says Trash Trooper is meant to be “really whimsical and fun and get people’s attention.”
The port is using a casting service instead of its online government job board. (Auditions were last Tuesday.)
“It’s kind of weird to use public employees to be actors because that’s not what they’re … trained to do,” she said. “So we’ve hired professional people to do that.”
The public — if it sees the troopers in person — won’t be misled into thinking they’re real rangers, she said.
“Nobody that we’ve seen has been confused … [or] said ‘Hey, how can you have a police officer?’ Not one person has,” Castaneda said in a phone interview.
On social media, she said, the port makes it clear “this is a fictional character.”
Credit for editing and video production goes to multimedia specialist Alethea Go, a cum laude UCLA graduate in film studies. Before coming to the Port District in February, she worked nearly four years as a video producer at UC San Diego, according to her LinkedIn profile.
No matter the goals, actors chosen will have to be ready for anything.
Said the recruitment ad: “Talent must be able to improvise and be animated and personable with the public and on camera while talking about the San Diego Port District’s Projects!”