How can a web app improve the process of managing 1000s of people on a film set?

Extras NI had just finished managing their Sixth season of Game of Thrones.

As Northern Ireland’s large-scale Extras agency, Extras NI have served the Film and TV industries here for over a decade. They’re a pretty impressive bunch, with over 20,000 background artists on their books, and a client list that runs from Game of Thrones to The Fall to dozens of Hollywood productions. But that’s not what makes Extras NI special.

Extras NI have earned a reputation for being professional, hard-working and reliable. To production teams from all over the world, Extras NI were a breath of fresh air — warm, friendly, professional people who could be trusted to deliver every time. If you wanted 500 carefully chosen extras on set on the same day for your production, they were the team you’d call.

For years, Extras NI were constantly being asked when they’d be expanding to include all of Ireland. In 2016, they knew it was time to scale, but they needed a plan.

How can we maintain great service while scaling quickly?

Extras NI were already Ireland’s biggest extras agency, but they only served Northern Ireland.

They weren’t about to give up on what made them unique — the time, care and attention they pay to each production, so if they were going to scale, they needed sharper tools.

Extras NI needed a web-based application that would make extras selection quicker, messaging more efficient, semi-automate communications and allow them to process payments in seconds instead of hours.

Together we agreed project aims and measures of success, taking time to understand the people who’d be using the system every day. We had a job to do.

First, we’re going to need a rebrand.

Extras NI’s name was limiting for an agency that served all of Ireland. They wanted to change their name to The Extras Dept — a name that reflects how they fit seamlessly into the production teams they work with.

Key Messaging, a Visual Identity and a Content Plan
Extras Extras

Headline - Skolar Sans


Body - Skolar Sans Lation


Designing Eddie (the Extras Management System).

Together, we designed and built a system based on the needs of the people who would use it each day:

The Extras Dept team members, who previously found themselves taking hours out of each day messaging background artists, and dealing with paperwork. They wanted to focus on the work they’re especially skilled at — finding just the right people for their clients, and making sure everyone does a great job on set.

Extras AKA Background Arists, who needed to be kept up-to-date, and to know what’s expected of them — where they’re expected to be, when, and dozens of other details. Background Artists also need to be reassured that their confidential information is stored and processed with the highest level of security.

Film and TV production team members — who wanted great, well-briefed, extras on set, in the right place at the right time. They also wanted to minimise on paperwork.


Messaging 100s of extras per day is a laborious task, but keeping extras happy and informed is at the very heart of what The Extras Dept do well. We worked closely together to define which parts should be automated to create a better experience for everyone.

By taking a lot of the administration out of day-to-day extras management, our system frees our client up to focus on the top notch customer service they’ve become famous for. We’ve already saved the team 100s of hours by automating the tracking of email opens, clicks, reads, and as well as answers to quick surveys, via Email or SMS.

Security, Legal, And A World Of Paper

As a regulated UK recruitment business, Extras NI needed to securely receive and store passports, photos, payment details and other highly sensitive information. Their work for major broadcasters requires comprehensive background checks on every extra. And, until now, management on film and TV sets required required untold amounts of paper, and hours of paperwork processing each evening.

We set up a secure server environment and document storage system based on a bleeding-edge zero knowledge encryption system, and transformed paper-intensive processes, reducing them to tasks that could be done on-set, with an iPad, in a fraction of the time.

It’s a whole new world. With our system, cost sign-off and artist tracking is now done on set using iPads. Background artists are paid quicker, and major productions save on 100s of hours of paperwork.

A Responsive Website, Fully Integrated With Our New System

Finally, we designed and developed a new responsive website for The Extras Dept, fully integrated with their new Extras Management System, and tailored to the needs of their present and future clients.

The new site gives any user access to a limited version of their Extras Management System, allowing smaller productions to shortlist their own background artists before they even get in touch.

So if you’re looking for a bearded man, aged 26, with axe-wielding skills, or twin baby girls (complete with chaperone) for your next production, you can shortlist them right on the site, or ask The Extras Dept to put together a shortlist for you. We’d recommend the latter.


“Atto Partners took the time to understand our company. After that, everything easily fell into place. They have helped us rebrand, built us a website and a bespoke casting system that has surpassed our expectations. Most importantly, they worked collaboratively with us and held our hands during a period of great change for our company. Atto Partners are our design and development team, and we hope to work with them for many years to come.”

Emma Sweeney, Manager, The Extras Dept


A super-efficient system in line with The Extras Dept’s personality

Well, we’ve just launched Eddie, so it’s early days. That said, the system is already powering the production of a major BBC Drama, saving a lot of time and effort.

The team couldn’t be happier.

Maybe we could make something great together? Tell us about your thing.

Address :
25 Donegall Street,
Northern Ireland - BT1 2FF
Tel : +44 28 9099 4321