The LOTR Movie Site
October 10, 2000

Horse-Riding Extras Exploited?

My comment on this article -- GRRRRR.

The pay rate comparison thing is ridiculous. If you used that method of comparision you'd conclude that every single worker in New Zealand, whatever the job, is exploited. Our pay rates are just much lower here than in the USA generally -- we're a poorer country.   Particularly with our currency at record lows, as it is at the moment, of course our pay rates are going to look pathetic if you convert them into US dollars. And these extras are not professional horse stunt-people, they're members of rural pony-clubs. So the whole "they're underpaid" thing annoys me. $200 a day, plus food and board, is really good money here. Not including the food and board, that's still about 1.5 times the average wage in this country (though of course, you have to keep in mind that they'd probably be working longer than 8 hours a day).

I can't really comment on the conditions as I know nothing about it. However, my hunch is that the extras here possibly do get fewer perks as the film industry isn't as unionised here as in the US. But I think she may be wrong in her assumption that the extras are all unhappy with their lot. Heck, I'd do it for free if I could only ride a horse!

Regarding the accommodation, we've heard before of all the extras getting their own rooms when they go on location. But for this particular shoot we've heard that they've had tremendous difficulty getting enough accommodation -- perhaps that's the problem.