The Inside Story
"The Extra" certainly isn't the biggest Australian produced film to hit our films, but like 1997's "The Castle" and 1999's "The Dish", there is something quirky and unique about it. It's quirkiness comes from being downright ordinary and it's unique because when you strip away all the veneers, there is a heart to this film that many ordinary aussies can relate to. "The Extra" is an ordinary film about ordinary folk who like all of us, want to be recognized. A guy who comes to the big smoke with a dream to find fortune and fame as an actor. Jimeoin is "The Extra", a film which is a complete departure from what most people will expect, especially after the huge success of his 1999 film "The Craic" which stormed into the charts taking everyone by surprise. Jimeoin says it was during the filming of "The Craic" that the idea for his latest film came. It took him five years to write it at "a word a week". Jimeoin says. "I wrote the film and then got to the end of it and showed it to a friend who told me it was two stories in one, so I started again, and that was after two and a half, three years!" Jimeoin's script features the aspirations of one man who wants to be noticed. A man who no longer wants to be insignificant. "This seems to be a timeless and universal aspiration, about feeling invisible, and wanting something more," says Director Kevin Carlin . "It’s about looking out there and saying the people who have significance, are the people who are famous, therefore maybe if I could be famous, I’ll have significance." Jimeoin's character "The Extra" is it turns out, just like every other character we meet in the film. They all aspire to something. "From Curtis, the child star who’s been close to fame and loved it and lost it; Ridley who has a little bit of fame but needs more to validate his existence; Brett Tamsin who is emblematic of everything that’s wrong with the big studio system and the way stars buy into it, to Katherine Arena who’s been taken into the flame and doesn’t know how to get back out. And then," says Carlin, "we have The Extra, who has never had any significance whatsoever and so believes that by gaining it, he will have respect." Director Carlin and Director of Photography Mark Wareham A.C.S have given the film two distinct looks. There is a multicultural aspect to it that can be found in any of Australia's big cities and yet this could be any big city and not necessarily Melbourne, where it was shot. "One of the main things I wanted to do was fill the landscape with lots of different nationalities; and to try and make the city a character within itself," Carlin notes. "Even though we shot it in Melbourne, I don’t think it’s specifically an Australian sort of city. The intention was to make it a universal city. It wasn’t about cultural cringe, but it was about a universal story." And there's a story in that filming too. Filming was scheduled for thirty five days and would include an Australian first. "We were the first to film in the Docklands soundstage", Jimeoin revealed. It would be a hectic time for Carlin and the crew. "There were like 100 people doing the big battle scenes. That’s always funny, for me anyway," says Jimeoin. And therein lies a pitfall as the star and writer of "The Extra" found out.
"You turn up and you think, I was only joking when I wrote this. You’ve taken this for real." So what can go wrong? Plenty! "It was a very ambitious script for the budget. And I suppose, it was asking a lot of all the different departments to bring to life what was on the page. For instance the work costume designer, Kitty Stuckey, had to do, to get the soldiers uniforms, and to get the peasants costumes and to supply us with thousands of extras right through the shoot. And what bought her grief was the fact a lot of the soldiers costumes had to come from Bollywood, India. And there was this time delay, so we’re about to shoot," Carlin says, "and the uniforms weren’t in the country, and when they did arrive in the country, they had to go into quarantine!" They did have a lot of good luck though when it came to Melbournes weather. "We were blessed with Melbourne’s weather. It was just extraordinary. We had some huge nights, particularly in the city, I think there were six nights where we had over a couple of hundred extras who had to stay the whole night. And for the first time in years, I had a t-shirt on for the whole night in Melbourne," Carlin recalls. Even up to the last shot. "It was four o’clock in the morning. The extras wanted to go and the clouds were coming over. We’d just finished the last shot with them and I still had shots of the canister rolling down the steps to shoot, and it started to spit rain. And Kirsten Veysey who is a makeup supervisor said to me, ‘if this buckets down on the way home, I know you’ve done a deal with the devil’. And of course, it just bucketed down for the next 15, 16 hours as soon as we got in the cars and started to go home." Overall Carlin admits that, despite the work load it was a lot of fun working on "The Extra". "It was a joy working with the cast, all of whom had the capacity to play comedy and play it well. Sometimes something is funny or not on the page and the difference is, their capacity to give it the right timing and make the joke work. Fortunately, I was surrounded by people who had that in spades." Of course the proof of that will be in how audiences receive the film and whether Australians throw their support behind "The Extra". It may sound strange, but while "The Extra" is funny, it's not all that important in the end because of the strong message it sends out. That message is 'be careful of what you wish for'. Jimeoin says he wanted to "make a film with a universal story." Well he's done that in a delightful manner. It's not a story that will please everyone, but it's one many can relate to for as Jimeoin says, this is "a story about the everyman or plebes if you will. This is a story about plebes." The ordinary folks in life like you and me. Ordinary people, with ordinary faces who sometimes dream that maybe life would be better if we were rich and famous. And while we dream of that big lottery win or doing something that the world will standup and take notice of, many of us realize there are far greater treasures around us. Treasures we sometimes just don't see!
Casting About
"THE EXTRA" stars .......
Jimeoin McKeown
["The Craic" and TV'S "Full Frontal", "The Des O'Connor Show", "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and "Jimeoin"]; Rhys Muldoon as ["Danny Deckchair" and "The Crop"]; Katherine Slattery ["The Secret Life of Us", "Young Lions", "The Road From Coorain" and "Changi"]; Bob Franklin ["The Micallef Program", "Small Tales & True", "Eric", and "The Craic"]; Helen Dallimore ["All Saints", "Day of the Roses", "Water Rats" and "Secret Bridesmaids Business"]; Colin Lane ["The Extra"]; Raj Ryan ["McLeod’s Daughters", "Farscape 3", "Dogwoman", "Seachange" and "All Saints"]; Tayler Kane ["Queen of the Damned", "The Dish", "Strange Bedfellows" and "You and Your Stupid Mate"]; Shaun Micallef [TV's "Seachange", "Blue Heelers", "Micallef Tonight ", "The Micallef Program" and the films "Bad Eggs" and "The Honourable Wally Norman"] and supermodel Kristy Hinze [TV'S "The Great Outdoors" and "The Look"] as Katherine Arena.
Crew Bytes
"THE EXTRA" was .......
directed by Kevin Carlin
["Stingers", "Marshall Law", "Always Greener" and "All Saints"]; screenplay by Jimeoin [TV'S "Tonight Live", "Full Frontal", "Bligh", "The Midday Show" and "Good Morning Australia"]; script edited by Tony McDonald ["Maestro", "The War Artist", "The Wish" and TV'S "Good Guys Bad Guys"]; production design by Carrie Kennedy [TV'S "Frontline", "Funky Squad", "The Panel" and the films "The Castle" and "The Dish"] and Ben Morieson ["Eagle & Evans", "Josh Jarman", "Bad Eggs" and "The Wannabes"]; costume designed by Kitty Stuckey ["The Dish", "The Castle", "Bad Eggs" and "Crackerjack"]; edited by Angie Higgins ["Stingers", "The Secret Life of Us", "State Coroner", "Neighbours" and "Something In the Air"]; director of photography Mark Wareham A.C.S [TELEMOVIES: "13 Gantry Row", "Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde", "First Daughter", "Invincible", "Murder in Greenwich" and "Evil Never Dies"]; produced by Stephen Luby ["The Craic", "Crackerjack" and "Bad Eggs"], Bruno Charlesworth ["Love and Other Catastrophes", "The Craic", "Russian Doll" and "Horseplay"] and Mark Ruse [TV'S "Fast Forward", "Full Frontal", "The Games" and "Kath and Kim"].
What It's All About
He's just an ordinary, unknown guy who has arrived in the big city. All of his life he's dreamed of being something more than insignificant. More than just another face in the crowd. He wants fame, fortune and all the trappinga that go with it. His best course of action is to follow his dream and make it big in the film industry where being a star means money, beautiful women and being on the A-List. He hires an agent and waits for that one phone call. The one that says "you've made it mate. This is your opning. Your doorway to the life you've always wanted." After what seems an etertinity the call comes for this young man with high hopes and a very plain face. A call that lands him slap bang in the middle of the big budget production "The Eternal Flame". As an extra. And so begins the tale of one man, a nobody with a very plain face, a man with a dream, who follows that dream and discovers that there's more to life than fame and fortune. There's love.
The Verdict
"It may not be the biggest aussie film to hit the screen but it isn't the worst by any stretch of the imagination. It's much like it's star Jimeoin. It has a face that only a mother could love. Tear away the veneer of those big Hollywood productions and you're left with an empty shell. Underneath the glitz and glamour of "The Extra" beats a heart of gold. It's a story every 'ordinary joe' and every 'miss average' will relate to. Sure it's lacking in a lot of areas, but there's enough here to warrant having a look at "The Extra". A story about ordinary, every day folk looking for fame and fortune. Of crooked agents, life off and on the set, hoodlums, disappointment, lust and two ordinary people who find the greatest treasure of all; love. Go on, have a look at it. It won't kill you."
The Cast
Jimeoin McKeown
Rhys Muldoon
Katherine Slattery
Bob Franklin
Helen Dallimore
Kristy Hinze
Colin Lane
Raj Ryan
Shaun Micallef
Tayler Kane
The Extra
Curtis Thai-Buckworth
Kylie Crackenrack
Katherine Arena
Simon Jones
Brett Tamsin
The Crew
Directed by Kevin Carlin
Produced by Stephen Luby, Mark Ruse, Bruno Charlesworth
Executive Producers Jennie Hughes & Posie Graeme-Evans
Written by Jimeoin McKeown
Script Editor Tony McDonald
Director of Photography Mark Wareham
Production Designer Carrie Kennedy & Ben Morieson
Costume Designer Kitty Stuckey
Make-up Supervisor Kirsten Veysey
Casting Kelly O’Shea
Edited by Angie Higgins
Run Time 94 minutes
Rated M15+ [AUST]
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