Kickstart This: Documentary 'Jesse Heiman: World's Greatest Extra'
by Ben Pearson
July 26, 2013
Welcome back to another edition of Kickstart This, FirstShowing's weekly column dedicated to spreading the word about cool indie projects that need your help to become a reality. We're back after a week off due to the craziness of Comic-Con, but this week, we want to turn your attention to a documentary project called Jesse Heiman: World's Greatest Extra, which follows the nerdy-looking guy who managed to score the much-coveted job of kissing supermodel Bar Rafeli in that famous Super Bowl commercial earlier this year. Check out the documentary team's pitch video below, tell us your thoughts, and don't forget to donate.
When I first moved to Hollywood, I spent some time working as an extra in a bunch of television shows and films. I was on "Glee," "CSI: New York," "NCIS: Los Angeles," among tons of others. (The highlight? Sharing the screen with Robert Downey Jr. for about a split second in Due Date.) As someone with an intense interest in learning everything I can about how the industry works, being on sets of projects like that was an invaluable experience. But eventually, I pursued other interests. For some people, being an extra - or also called "background artists," as the lifers prefer to be referred to - is a full time job.
The purpose of a background artist is to blend in and fill out the world on screen to make movies or TV shows feel natural, and the fact that you're in the background theoretically means that most people won't ever notice you. But Jesse Heiman is undoubtedly one of the world's most recognizable extras, popping up in projects like Catch Me If You Can, Old School, The Social Network, Spider-Man, and over 300 films in total over the past ten years.
The documentary will follow him for the next year in an effort to see if Jesse can take his overnight success from the GoDaddy commercial and translate that into becoming a leading man. It'll detail how he came to Hollywood, getting his break in that big TV spot, and how he moves forward from here. Will he be able to capitalize on the recognition, or will he fade back into the out-of-focus background? Check out their pitch:
For more on Jesse Heiman: World's Greatest Extra, and to help support the project, visit its Kickstarter page. The filmmakers are hoping to raise a total of $65,000 by next Friday, August 2nd (a week away), and they need all of our help to hit their goal. If you've ever wondered what it's like to work as an extra in a movie - or just want to see how the hell this guy manages to end up in all of these great shows and films - donate and spread the word about this project on Facebook and Twitter and anywhere else you can.
That's all for this week's edition of Kickstart This. Feel free to e-mail me at BenPears85@gmail.com if you find a cool film-related project that needs some extra attention to meet its goal. My inbox is always open and if you send in any Kickstarter or IndieGoGo film project, I can't promise we'll feature it, but I will always at least take a look at it. Thanks for your e-mails, and as always, thanks so much for your continued support of these independent projects because they could not be completed without the help of film lovers just like you.