Uni-versal Extras Ltd. was founded in 2005 by 23-year-old Oxford Brookes graduate Wayne Berko. After researching the market, Berko realized that feature film and TV productions shooting in multiple locations across the UK would benefit from having one nationwide casting agency. Funding was obtained by investing his own savings and by applying for DTI loans. DTI loans are borrowed directly from a bank which are guaranteed (up to a point) by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Uni-versal Extras set out to provide a free service to all students over the age of 16, offering the opportunity of well paid part-time work in the TV and film industries. Berko became an ambassador for a government backed program called "Make Your Mark" to help young people harness their entrepreneurial skill, and was also named as one of the Top 15 Young Entrepreneurs in Europe in 2006 by Business Week.
In 2007, the company opened its books to a diverse range of professional sectors such as the emergency services, armed forces and the glamor industry in order to cater to the diverse requirements of production companies. This enabled the company to supply extras and supporting artists of all ages and backgrounds with diverse skills. Uni-versal Extras has since acted as the sole extras agency on a diverse range of award winning productions such as Les Misérables and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
- Guardian news piece 'Acting Up' Jan 2009
- Business Week feature on Universal Extras
- Business Week Young Entrepreneur competition in which Berko participated
- Article on Enterprise Quest.com
- Follow-up article in Business Week
- TnT Magazine 'Careers in Film'