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Workload growing at agency for movie and TV extras as it toasts decade in the industry

By Margaret Canning

Nearly 4,000 extras on shows including Game of Thrones and Line of Duty earned a total of nearly £2m last year, it has emerged.

Extras NI, which has found work for extras on movies like Good Vibrations, and TV shows ranging from BBC drama Line of Duty and worldwide smash Game of Thrones, is opening an office in Dublin. The company, founded by Carla Stronge and Siobhan Allan, is marking 10 years in Northern Ireland’s screen industry, with a rebrand to The Extras Dept.

It said extras working in Northern Ireland were deployed over 20,167 working days during 2016, up 55% since 2014.

Its 3,9000 working extras last year earned a total of £1.9m — working out as a daily rate of £94.  

Ms Stronge, who has won two Emmys for her casting work on Game of Thrones, said: “The last 10 years have been a rollercoaster for The Extras Dept. The screen industries in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have grown significantly in recent years, and The Extras Dept has mirrored this growth as it has sought to meet the industry’s evolving needs.

“We have continuously invested in, and developed, our systems of work so that we are at the

forefront of our industry.”

Managing director Emma Sweeney, who will run the company’s Dublin office, said: “Our film production clients are increasingly asking us to help them fill their extras roles in the Republic of Ireland, in the same way that we do in Northern Ireland.

“Our new innovative paperless casting system will help minimise any geographical issues that may have presented some challenges in the past.”

Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss congratulated the company on reaching its 10th anniversary and described the extras as “hardworking men, women and children who get up earlier than everyone else, enduring foul weather, filthy costumes, and grumpy Americans”.

The series’ seventh season will be shown on Sky Atlantic later this year.

It has been filmed in key Northern Ireland locations from Castle Ward in Co Down to the Dark Hedges in Co Antrim since 2010.

Richard Williams, the chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said the anniversary was “a huge milestone and is a testament to the team’s hard work and talent”.

He said: “It is a true Northern Ireland success story which Northern Ireland Screen has been happy to support with trainees over the years.”

The company said it will mark the milestone today by hosting a major blood drive with Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service with over 200 extras at Crumlin Road Gaol.

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