Wanna be an extra in something? Move to Ireland!
THERE'S a lot of movie work for men in Dublin right now. Bearded, long-haired guys with bulging biceps and tattoos. The sort you might be a bit nervous about meeting, on your way home from a night out.
Which makes them perfect as extras for the new series of Vikings, currently being shot in Ireland.
The Irish-Canadian production is into Season 4 and seems to be as popular as ever. Doubtless, it's a huge success abroad. As for us, when we're not enjoying the blood, sweat and naughty bits, we're busily pointing out the up-and-coming actors we sort of know: 'that fellah there, he's Annie's friend's nephew', or determinedly recognising every hill and waterfall in any given scene.
Hollywood-scale movie studio
Meanwhile, there are advanced-stage plans to build a 180,000 square foot Hollywood scale movie studio, on Dublin's East coast. Apparently the new studios would allow for at least three large-scale productions to be filmed at the same time. Even Bono is lobbying for it, so it's looking good.
The whole thing is going to have a huge knock-on effect, of course. And I'm not about to waffle about the economy, because let's face it, what would I know?
We used to think highly of banking as a profession
I'm talking about the one resource we have in plenty in this little country: our kids. To be blunt, all this Hollywood movie stuff is turning their heads. No longer do they want to be engineers or nurses or accountants. Way too boring! They all want to be movie stars.
The reason I know this, is because such news travels very quickly on the parent grapevine.
'He's so good at science and maths, and he's so bright. I thought he'd be a brilliant doctor. But no, he wants to be the next Will Ferrell,' one mother told me recently. Her son is only 10, so his aspirations, in fairness, may change.
That's another thing about Irish mothers. We all believe our children are very bright. If they're not getting 'A's on all their school tests, we tend to think they're not working hard enough.
'Ah she's very bright, but she can be a bit lazy.' But I digress.
Another mum enrolled her three children in one of the big drama schools and signed them to an agency for ads and 'bit' work. She's hoping they'll all work it out of their systems.
Although acting might not be considered the most reliable of careers, most of us in this country used to think very highly of banking as a profession. And look how that turned out!
We'll need mansions with swimming pools. Indoor ones, obviously.
And we forget that for a tiny country, we've produced a not unreasonable number of Hollywood actors over the decades. We don't know about the rest of the world, but we're all very relieved when we hear authentic Irish accents replace the 'stage-Orish' of many an old Hollywood movie. No offence.
In recent years, even I can see the seduction for youngsters. Given a choice between spending their summer holiday behind a shop till, or hanging out on a film set, charging around in bits of fur and war paint, chances are high they'll embrace their inner Viking and celebrate their fifteen seconds of fame.
However, whatever about the prospect of longer lines at the till when we're buying all that sunscreen and salad for the Irish Summer, it's the long-term outcome that worries me.
When Hollywood finally realises that the smart thing to do is to relocate permanently to Ireland, we're going to need a proper infrastructure. Like mansions with swimming pools. Indoor ones, obviously. Let's keep it real here.
We'll also need people to put everything in place for the stars. And maintain them. Builders and electricians, hairdressers and beauty therapists, teachers for their kids (Irish teachers can pronounce any mad name an actor inflicts on their offspring, because most Irish kids already have unpronounceable names). And let's not forget doctors, dentists and lawyers. If we're to believe everything we read about actors, we'll need a lot of those.
The problem is, we won't have enough of those wonderful people anymore. Because instead of swotting the books, they'll be treading the boards. The next generation will be swopping science for Shakespeare, overalls for period costume. Why? Because Ireland is now the hottest place to be for aspiring actors and mega TV series.
In fact, if I fancy a change in direction, I might just check out some of those castings myself. Who knows, I might yet manage to land a part, playing 'astonished observer of Clooney's getaway' or 'fifth-lady-in-waiting to Anne Hathaway'.
A bit like going to a party without the booze: you know a lot of the people and you stand around and chat.
What's not to like?
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