THE EXTRA
Kevin Carlin (2005)
Compiled for MED231
By: Robert Allen

CAST
The Extra                                 :           Jimeoin
Curtis Thai-Buckworth           :           Rhys Muldoon
Claudia Grey                           :           Katherine Slattery
Det. Paul Ridley                      :           Shaun Micallef
Marko                                     :           Bob Franklin
Kylie Crakenrack                    :           Helen Dallimore
Danny                                     :           Colin Lane
Simon Jones                            :           Raj Ryan
Brett Tamsin                            :           Tyler Kane
Catherine Arena                      :           Kristy Hinze
Ruben Rosenthal                     :           William Ten Eyck

            (Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372907/fullcredits#cast)

CREW
Director                       :           Kevin Carlin
Writer                          :           Jimeoin
Cinematographer         :           Mark Wareham
Producer                      :           Bruno Charlesworth
                                                Stephen Luby
                                                Mark Ruse
Executive Producer     :           Posie Graeme-Evans
                                                Jennie Hughes
Production Company  :           Macquarie Film Corporation
                                                Ruby Entertainment

(Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372907/fullcredits#cast)      
                                   
RELEASE DATES AND RUNTIME
Australia          :           21    April        2005
New Zealand   :                   May         2005
Video              :           24    August    2005
Runtime           :           96 minutes

            (Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372907/)

AT THE BOX OFFICE
I was unable to find any information on either the budget of The Extra, or of the box office takings, other than that it was generally viewed as a “box office flop”, and had considerably less success than Jimeoin’s film debut, The Craic.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

REVIEWS
David Stratton & Margaret Pomeranz, At The Movies, ABC
http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1348642.htm
Also available at
http://au.movies.yahoo.com/The+Extra/movie/13848/featured-review/

Meagan Spencer, The Movie Show, SBS
http://www20.sbs.com.au/movieshow/index.php?action=review&id=1624

Paul Kalina, The Age
http://www.theage.com.au/news/Reviews/The-Extra/2005/04/20/1113854251947.html

Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile
http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=10201&s=Reviews

Luke Buckmaster, In Film, Australia’s online movie magazine
http://www.infilm.com.au/reviews/theextra.htm

The Qwipster, amateur reviewer
http://www.qwipster.net/extra.htm

Cinematic Intelligence Agency, includes production notes
http://thecia.com.au/reviews/e/extra.shtml

INTERVIEWS
Jimeoin and Steven Luby with Lawrie Zion, on making the first movie to be filmed at Melbourne’s Docklands Studio, published The Age 21/04/04
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/20/1082395837520.html

Jimeon with Andrew L. Urban, published 21/04/05
http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=10291&s=Interviews

Jimeon with Andrew Bartlett, 720 ABC Perth radio, aired 7/04/2005
http://www.abc.net.au/perth/stories/s1340601.htm

Jimeon about the release of The Extra in China, the first Australian film to get a mainstream release in China since Crocodile Dundee, 5/04/07
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=259785

Jimeon with Clint Morris, prior to film release
http://www.webwombat.com.au/entertainment/movies/jimeoin-interview.htm

 

PLOT SYNOPSIS

By night he dances in a gay club, by day he dresses as a lemon to sell fruit. And he  always waits for his phone to ring. He is, The Extra.

The Extra is the story of your average guy in the street, trying to become a famous movie star so he can get into all the parties and get all the girls, the only problem is, he’s invisible. Security don’t even see him when he walks through the front door of an exclusive VIP party with a gun in plain sight. Running alongside this story of a quest for fame, is a love story, driven by genital lice.

Jimeoin is The Extra, an unknown, unnamed man who has come to the city to make it in the big time. If movie stars don’t have to settle for a life of obscurity, why should he? When he finally gets a part in the biggest ever block buster, Eternal Flame III, the final instalment of a sword and sandal epic starring Brett Tamsin (Tyler Kane) and Catherine Arena (Kristy Hinze), his part ends up on the cutting room floor, and extras aren’t even invited to the premiere party.

Cue the flashback. After breaking every rule of being an extra, making eye contact with the stars, initiating a conversation with a star, and asking her how she’s enjoying her stay in the country, it seems The Extra has finally been noticed by someone, but alas Catherine is pulled aside and no one else sees him before he leaves, oblivious to how close he came to being known. This encounter sets the scene for a running joke throughout the film, Catherine is forever catching glimpses of The Extra, but whenever she asks someone who he is, he has left before anyone sees him, always oblivious of the interest he has peaked.

After being cut from Eternal Flame, The Extra tries to land the lead role in the trailer for a “black comedy, and he means black, fuck the censors” directed by a fellow extra, former child star Curtis Thai-Buckworth (Rhys Muldoon). Curtis needs to make this trailer, to get funding for a full-length feature in order to pay off his debt to The Limelight club owner, Marko (Bob Franklin). But Marko is a film expert and wants to be a film star, and so The Extra is, once again, relegated to background, and off screen roles. Until Marko is injured in a runaway caravan accident, and the film crew abandon Curtis. The Extra is the only one who stands by Curtis, and is rewarded with the lead role in the trailer. But with no crew and no money, making the trailer is going to be difficult.

Curtis and The Extra begin “collecting” the necessary equipment from the set of Eternal Flame. There is a moment of fear that they have been caught out when they find TV detective Paul Ridley (Shaun Micallef) waiting for them in Curtis’ office, which is filled with the stolen equipment. But it turns out the Detective Ridley is just hoping to audition for a spot in the trailer, in order to advance his acting career and break free of the typecast of “tough, good looking, cop.”

While all this has been going on, The Extra has been falling for Claudia (Katherine Slattery), an extra from Eternal Flame he met on the bus home from his lemon job. After that first meeting they sleep together, and The Extra develops an itch, which he later finds out is crabs, and is told they are probably from her. The Doctor tells him he should tell Claudia, in case she doesn’t know she has them, and this leads to the second meeting with Claudia, and the second time they sleep together, and he never gets a chance to tell her. Finally, it is worked out that the crabs have come from a pair of pants The Extra wore when playing a robber, who happens to be Curtis Thai-Buckworth, in a re-enactment on Detective Ridley’s show, Crime Catchers, a role The Extra soon loses.

This relationship between The Extra and Claudia is soon thrown into turmoil when Catherine Arena finally catches The Extra, and drags him away from Claudia, into the VIP room of The Limelight. When he sees the true horrors that inhabit the VIP section, the illusion of glamour that surrounds famous actors begins to fracture. Abandoned by Catherine, The Extra is soon evicted from the club, as he is obviously a nobody. When The Extra apologises to Claudia, he finally lets slip the tale of the crabs, rather than being relieved no one has crabs, which he assumes she will be, she is angered that the only reason he wanted to see her in the first place was because of the crabs.

With the trailer finally made, all Curtis Thai-Buckworth has to do, is show it to internationally renowned producer and star-maker Ruben Rosenthal (William Ten Eyck). But Marko steals the only copy of the trailer in order to make good the debt he is owed, and to make sure that no one steals his role in the movie. With balaclavas and replica guns, Curtis and The Extra crash the premiere party of Eternal Flame, being held at The Limelight, to steal back the trailer. On the way out, The Extra and Curtis are stopped by Detective Ridley, who inadvertently shoots Brett Tamsin, and the trailer rolls away down the red carpet. As Curtis is being taken away, Rosenthal is examining the exposed film, and upon seeing the images of The Extra, wonders who this man is, and if he is the next big thing? During all the commotion, The Extra has removed his balaclava, and melted into the anonymity of the crowd, unaware of how close he has come to realising his dream.

The film ends on a happy note, despite The Extra’s failure to become famous. He reconciles with Claudia, who has landed the lead role as Juliet in an upcoming production of Shakespeare’s play. And The Extra has decided to let go of his dream of becoming a famous movie star. Now he is going to become the drummer in a famous band.

Overall The Extra is a comedy. There are also elements of romance and crime, but these are all treated with a comic effect. Such as the genital crabs driving the love story, and the ineptitude of Curtis when he trips making a get-a-way, dropping the takings from his hair salon robbery down the drain. The underdog position of The Extra lends the film a distinctly Australian persona, despite the Irish accent. David Stratton says he couldn’t work out where the film was set, originally believing it was in Hollywood. While it is true that it is difficult to pinpoint an exact city, it is clearly evident from the accents of the cast that we are in Australia, the only ones with American accents are Brett Tamsin, Catherine Arena and, later in the story, Ruben Rosenthal. The accents of the general population indicate that the action is somewhere in Australia.

CRITICAL UPTAKE AND REVIEW

When The Extra was initially released it received negative reviews from professional reviewers across the board. Margaret Pomeranz gave it just 1 star, while her partner, David Stratton, was a little more generous, awarding the film 1½ stars. Meagan Spencer, from SBS’s ‘The Movie Show’, gave the film 1½ stars, as did ‘The Age’ reviewer, Paul Kalina. Luke Buckmaster, reviewing for “Australia’s online film magazine, ‘In Film’, is more generous in his review, acknowledging that the film is not going to rewrite the rules of cinema, or trigger the next Australian ‘renaissance’ of film, he recognises that the film is good for a chuckle, rating it 3 stars.

While the professionals may have found the film “distinctly unfunny” and “a shambolic effort” (to quote Margaret Pomeranz), many of your “average Joe Blow(s)”, found the film to be entertaining, and after all, the film is about an average Joe Blow, so shouldn’t he be the one to judge its merits? ‘The Movie Show’ viewers, at least the ones who view the website, have given the film a 4 star rating. Viewers of ‘At The Movies’ have given the film a range of scores from 0, admittedly from someone who had never seen the film, to 5 stars, with the average approximately 3 stars.

At the time of its release in 2005 The Extra may have been viewed as a commercial and critical failure, but recently this idea has begun to change. The film has been given a new lease of life, being showcased at a Chinese film festival. It is the first Australian film since Crocodile Dundee to receive a mainstream release in China. There are only about twenty foreign films released per year in China, and The Extra enjoyed an early success, of some kind, in the Chinese market before its general release, as an illegal download from the internet.

Personally, I found The Extra to be much better than the critics would have you believe. It provides a satirical view of the film industry, especially the treatment of extras. The contractual obligations of the extras on Eternal Flame III, to avoid eye contact with the stars, not to initiate conversations, ask for an autograph or ask how the stars are enjoying their stay in the country, are based on the true experiences of one of Jimeoin’s friends, working on a Tom Cruise film as an extra. There is also a critique of the genre film, through Bob Franklin’s character, Marko. Marko is a film expert, he knows all the rules, like “If you see a gun in the first act, then someone’s gotta be dead by the third”, and he is constantly trying to stifle Curtis’ artistic vision, by insisting upon editing the script to adhere to these rules. Similarly, there is the running joke about a poke in the eye only being funny once, the more often it is repeated, the less funny it gets. The same is true of films in general.

The film is sprinkled with amusing life lessons, such as the pearl of wisdom The Extra dishes up when he first finds out he has missed out on the lead in Curtis’ film. “Don’t take disappointment personally. [The Extra throws an empty bottle at Curtis’ office] To be honest, I find that very hard to do. I prefer to just smash something, and then move on.”

Overall The Extra is a great film to watch on a rainy afternoon. While it has got something to say, it is a message that, for most of us, can wait. I agree with the critics, insomuch as this is not a film that is going to change your life, unless perhaps you are planning on a career as a movie extra, but there is far more entertainment value than most give the film credit for. I think Luke Buckmaster provides the fairest rating of the critics, his 3 stars locate the film in the middle ground, right where it belongs.

PAST WORKS

Kevin Carlin, Director:
The Extra was Carlin’s first feature film after a successful career directing some of Australia’s most popular dramas. He started his career in 1993 with Newlyweds, and has also worked on Blue Heelers, 1994, All Saints, 1998, Stingers, 1998, and Always Greener, 2001, amongst others. After The Extra, Carlin went back to TV, directing Little Oberon, 2005, Headland, 20005 and The Wedge, 2006. Carlin has also made one more feature film, 2006’s Boytown.

Jimeoin, Writer/ Lead actor:
Primarily a stand-up comedian he is one of Australia’s (not Ireland’s) most well known comedians. He has appeared as a guest star on various TV shows as himself. His most successful previous work on screen was as writer and actor in The Craic, a 1999 feature film directed by Ted Emery.

Bruno Charlesworth, Producer:
The Extra was Charlesworth’s first film as producer. He has been executive producer on a number of past films, Love and Other Catastrophes, 1996, The Craic, 1999, Strange Planet, 1999, Russian Doll, 2001 and Horseplay, 2003.

Stephen Luby, Producer:
Luby started his career as a line producer on various TV shows, most notably Full Frontal in 1993. He moved into films as line producer in The Craic, 1999 and graduated to producer for Crackerjack 2002 and Bad Eggs, 2003. Since The Extra, Luby was the producer on the disastrous Let Loose Live, which was axed after only two episodes in 2005.

Mark Ruse, Producer:
Before The Extra, Ruse was producer for various TV comedies including Full Frontal 1993, The Adventures of Lano & Woodley, 1999, The Games, 2000 and Kath & Kim, 2002-2003. Since The Extra, Ruse has not been so successful, with his only credited work as producer on Let Loose Live, 2005.

Mark Wareham, Cinematographer:
Prior to The Extra, Wareham worked on various TV series and telemovies including, The Wayne Manifesto, 1996 (TV series), Beastmaster, 1999 (TV series) and BlackJack, 2003 (telemovie). Since The Extra Wareham has worked on Little Oberon, 2005 (telemovie), Boytown, 2006, Clubland, 2007 and Joanne Lees: Murder in the Outback, 2007 (TV movie).