1. ITV Report

Extras agency celebrating 10th anniversary busier than ever

A company responsible for supplying extras to the film industry in Northern Ireland celebrating its 10th anniversary says it is busier than ever.

The Extras Dept, formerly Extras NI, has been operating for 10 years, specialising in actors who can blend perfectly into the background.

With over 17,000 registered extras of all ages and from all walks of life on its books, the agency has provided thousands of background artists to support national and international productions such as BBC’s The Fall and HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The Extras Dept has just celebrated a record-breaking year thanks to its work with nine major productions as well as a number of commercials and smaller productions.

The company has rebranded due to its success and demand seeing it expand into the market in the Republic of Ireland.

Dramas being filmed in Northern Ireland have not only helped put the region on the map as a top filming and tourist location, but has also provided employment for local people.

Last year more than 20,167 days of work were generated for extras on a range of TV and film sets. That's up 55% on the two years previous.

In 2016 extras earned between them around - £1.9m - that's the equivalent of 80 people being employed full time.

The Extras Dept, which supported a blood drive at the Crumlin Road Gaol on Tuesday - says casual workers such as extras are the life blood of the local film industry.

“The last two years have been our biggest yet and we’ve been graced with fantastic productions such as The Fall, Line of Duty, obviously Game of Thrones is very important to our business and lots of films as well,” Emma Sweeney from the Extras Dept said.

“There is a film coming out in the next couple of months called Lost City of Z which was a very big production for us, it was very background heavy. It’s just rolled and rolled and we’ve just had to roll with the punches whenever the productions come in.”

The agency manager said while they weren’t sure how Brexit would affect their business, they hoped that when Game of Thrones wraps up that something of a similar scale would replace it.