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Jimeoin: Interview

Interview by Clint Morris

Interview with Jimeoin
Actor/writer in the movie The Extra.

Jimeoin

Jimeoin's cheeky marketing
for the new movie,
The Extra

Knowing just how many Australian films fail these days, comedian Jimeoin has decided to lead the marketing team on his latest Australian film.

From day one, he's suggested strategies, interviewed cinemagoers, observed poster displays and most recently, gone on a stand-up tour to promote it.

"With an Australian film, you have to try everything," admits the affable Irish comedian, starring in his second major movie, The Extra.

"Sometimes publicists think what will work for one film will work for another - it just isn't true. You've got to think different."

It's the U.S Blockbusters that get the maximised marketing push, he says, not the small but decent local pics. Cinemas don't help. "I went down to the [cinema] complex and couldn't see the poster anywhere…we also had to bust our balls to get the trailer shown.

"They just don't think Australian films are worth the effort - and we're in bloody Australia! I won't be too upset if people don't go see it though, because I felt the publicity team have done the best job, they've just done everything."

The stand-up fave says he's been "all over" the marketing of the film since the film was locked - but it's something he enjoyed playing a part in. "I enjoy that part of it. I go to Edinburgh [for the comedy festival] where you have to come up with your own poster - and put your own spin on it. That's the enjoyable part."

It's worth a bit of extra effort pushing the film though, he says, because the Australian film industry is in a bit of poo at the moment. "I think they should make one or two good Australian films a year and not a whole heap of average ones. They're quite expensive things [to make] and any given weekend you can see Brad Pitt or Arnold Schwarzenegger on the TV, or see them on DVD or at the movies. If you want people to see an Australian film - it's got to be something different," explains the Irishman.

"People want Star Wars, Batman or something weird that will make them go 'wow!' You've got to give that to them. The funding body has to get braver and start backing the risky ones. Bottom part of the industry - the crew's, facilities and so on - are doing really well, the only part of the industry that's really struggling is the artistic bit. The people behind the funding need get to braver and stop going 'that worked, let's do that again', and go 'that's different, let's do that'."

If it's anything, The Extra is definitely different. Jimeoin says he first started the script for it some five years ago. "I work on them really slowly," he smiles. "I do a lot of stand-up, so time's at a minimum, and then, after two years I looked at it and thought it was the wrong thing I wanted to do - so I started again, and got it done within a year and a half after that. I then noticed I had two stories mixed into one, so I had to pick one story over the other - that's probably why it took five years, I had to realise that."

In the film, Jimeoin plays the titular 'Extra', an anonymous film star wannabe who cracks it big when he gets the lead in a squalid mobster-funded movie. It's a total 180 from the actor's first film, The Craic, which instead loosely told the tale of the actor's plight to Australia from Ireland.

"I wanted the second film to have a broader appeal, then I could get more money to make it - so it would be a better looking picture. It's not a film about films - there's not a lot of film jokes in it. I'm really hoping people discover it."

The benefit of manning your own ship is you get to have a say in casting, says Jimeoin. "Katherine Slattery, I hadn't met before, and I remember she came to the audition process and just nailed it. Everyone else [in the film] I knew pretty well, but I still had them audition for it. That's the only way you know whether they're going to work as their characters. I actually removed things from the script after the audition - because they didn't work."

Having met a lot of comics and actors thanks to his 17 years of television and stand-up experience in the country, he also roped them into the movie - for cameo appearances. "It's good to get these sort of people in there - Russell [Gilbert, who plays a cross-eyed cameraman] gets a laugh and Livinia [Nixon] too," he says, adding "Fame is trying to get to know loads of people but really, there's only a handful of people that you know - and you might as well have those people around you."

Though he's cooked up a good wholesome snack, Jimeoin knows he could've added and subtracted a couple of ingredients from the recipe to make it an all-round better film - but that's life, as actress Sigrid Thornton recently told him. "She said 'it's like life, life is full of mistakes - but they're part of your history'. That's probably a good way of putting it."

And after an exhausting slog plugging the bejsus out of the film, Jimeoin says he's looking forward to a well-earned break. "I would be quite happy to take two years off and not talk to anyone," he cheekily smiles.

The Extra screens in Australian theatres from April 21st, 2005.

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