Jeff Tremaine: skateboard Jackass turned Hollywood director

Director and Jackass co-creator Jeff Tremaine.
Director and Jackass co-creator Jeff Tremaine. Contributed

THE Hollywood film industry isn't something many people just fall into.

But Jeff Tremaine is happy to wear the title of accidental filmmaker.

The Jackass co-creator was the editor of a skateboard magazine when a few funny videos changed the course of his career.

 "Skateboarding is the common denominator in Jackass," Tremaine told APN.

"Johnny Knoxville starting writing for our magazine and he started pitching these ridiculous articles where he wanted to go hurt himself and we had just started filming stuff.  He came on in the second video we made and he really stole the show with this self-defence test.

"He wanted to try out all this different self-defence equipment and eventually he wanted to try out a bulletproof vest and shoot himself in the chest. He got the cheapest bulletproof vest on the market; it was a high-risk ordeal. He did it and we put it in the video and it became this huge viral thing."

Tremaine's childhood friend Spike Jonze helped them pitch the Jackass series to MTV.

"We snuck in the back door," he said.

"Once we sold the show I never worked my way up. I went from being a magazine editor to being an executive producer of a TV show without any experience, and it shows with what we were doing."

The success of the Jackass TV series and films culminated for Tremaine, as director, and Knoxville in an Oscar nomination for last year's "pensioner behaving badly" comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.

Director Jeff Tremaine, centre, pictured with Johnny Knoxville, right, during filming for the movie Bad Grandpa.
Director Jeff Tremaine, centre, pictured with Johnny Knoxville, right, during filming for the movie Bad Grandpa. Contributed

"I did not have any aspirations (to become a filmmaker), but when we started making videos it felt very natural to me," he said.

"Bad Grandma is the closest thing to a scripted feature we've done. We were scripting a lot of the ideas and then shooting them in the real world. We were telling a story but half the actors didn't know they were starring in a movie. It was half filmmaking and half surveillance and psychology."

Tremaine has most recently directed a new TV and online campaign for Virgin Mobile Australia which pokes fun of anti-social mobile phone use and stars Glee's Jane Lynch.

"It was strange for me to work with such a professional," he laughed.

"My normal crew is not quite as up to speed. She was great. I was a fan of hers before we even started so I was excited when the opportunity came up.

"She's just sharp and funny; she does the greatest looks. She doesn't have to say something to be funny."

The 47-year-old will soon direct his first entirely scripted drama film Dirt, a biopic about American heavy metal band Motley Crue.

"We've got a script we're pretty happy with and we're about to start scheduling it and casting it," he said.

"We're hopefully shooting it next year."

Tremaine sees a lot of similarities between the stars of Jackass and the band, which was known for its partying ways and brushes with the law during the height its popularity in the 1980s.

Dirt, based on the biography The Dirt: Confessions of The World's Most Notorious Rock Band, will chronicle the band's rise to fame, internal conflicts and backstage antics.

"It's so parallel to our experiences with Jackass, coming from nowhere and rising to the top and all the trappings of different things fame can do," Tremaine said.

"I feel really connected to it. I'm really excited about it, but we'll see how it goes.

If it goes bad then we'll just make another Jackass movie (laughs)."

Topics:  jackass motley crue movies

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