From left: Classic Cinema's Eddie Tamir with local 'stars' Maryska Zielinska, Derek Heta, Charlotte Dilnutt and 8K Radius director Clayton Jacobson.

From left: Classic Cinema's Eddie Tamir with local 'stars' Maryska Zielinska, Derek Heta, Charlotte Dilnutt and 8K Radius director Clayton Jacobson. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

EDDIE Tamir, owner of the Classic Cinema in Elsternwick, has come up with a novel plan to attract customers - put them in a film.

He walked the streets seeking locals with true stories to tell and asked his friend Clayton Jacobson, co-creator of the hit film Kenny, to direct.

The result is 8K Radius - nine mini-documentaries, each three minutes long, that will screen at the Classic tonight as part of the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival.

He calls it ''making the community the stars of their own cinema''.

''Our criterion was not necessarily famous or worthy people, just people who could be living in your street, who you walk by every day but if you gave them the time, they would open up this whole world that was interesting and surprising.''

The title refers to the cinema's ''catchment area'' - an eight-kilometre radius including Elwood, Caulfield and Brighton.

Mr Tamir discovered that Charlotte Dilnutt, a 16-year-old he had interviewed for a cinema job, had nine pet rats. She was signed on.

One of his cinema customers, Louis, was adopted from Malawi, works in childcare and busks as a Michael Jackson impersonator. He's in the film.

Another subject is Maryska Zielinska, manager of the bar After the Tears next to the Classic, a Polish immigrant who has given up the grog.

Ms Zielinska lives above the cinema, and goes to sleep to the sound of film soundtracks.

Friends suggested Mr Tamir contact Derek Heta, of St Kilda East, a professional dog walker.

He tracked him down after many phone calls. ''A very interesting, colourful character full of street wisdom,'' says Mr Tamir.

Through a millinery shop in Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick, Mr Tamir found Lydia, a rockabilly and tattoo enthusiast who designs burlesque lingerie.

Other documentary subjects include Amy, a Caulfield racecourse vet, and Sean Wroe, a champion sprinter who competed at the Beijing Olympics.

Charlotte the rat fancier, who is now a cinema employee, says the films are a good way for the Classic to ''get involved with the community'' although the prospect of seeing herself on the big screen is ''weird''.

Mr Heta said that when Mr Tamir approached him, ''being a bit of a shy person, it freaked me out'' but now he's ''rapt'' and hopes it could help his business.

Mr Tamir wants to replicate the 8K Radius project in future at his Belgrave Cameo Cinemas, and at the Lido, a long-dormant cinema in Hawthorn that he is converting into a new cinema complex.

8K Radius screens at Classic Cinema Elsternwick tonight at 7pm, followed by a forum with the filmmakers and ''stars''. Individual three-minute shorts will run before main features at the Classic in July and August.