Train To Be A Film Production Accountant
April 16, 2009 27 Comments
Michigan has been the go-to State for film production and there just aren’t more than a handful of local film production accountants and asistant accountants. I have decided to do a couple of weekend workshops in May/09. The first one will be for those who want to learn to be an assistant film accountant. The second one will be for novice line producers, and experienced assistant accountants, to learn such key duties as Managing a Film Budget, and Manage a Weekly Cost Report. The key focal points of controlling the costs are emphasized. I have a sponsor in Media Services (an entertainment payroll and software company) and the Michigan Film Commission has promised to promote my web page.
Film Accounting is the only business category on earth which doesn’t require you to have previous accounting training. The assistant accountants usually rise on the food chain with a series of on-the-job apprenticeships. Of course, you’d be ahead of the crowd if you had accouning and bookkeeping fundamentals, but really the only requirement is a sharp mind and bright attitude.
Film Accounting has the same elements as any business – Bookkeeping, Reporting and Auditing. However, the rapidity and convention of the film accounting process has to be experienced to believe. There’s “Petty Cash” of $50,000 a week, about 200 to 500 Purchase Orders a week (at least in the last weeks of prep and the first weeks of shooting), etc. The paperwork can trample the accounting system IF you aren’t prepared with a workable system. And THAT’s what separates Film Accounting from any other – the workable system that’s the same from production to production and which the producers, financiers, crews and the cast have grown accustomed to.
The production of a film or TV project can be seen as a full-blown dramatization of the life cycle of a manufacturing company. In a few months the crew move into an empty warehouse/studio, rent or buy furniture, equipment, vehicles, props, wardrobe, shoot the ‘product’ for a very specifically locked-in budget, and then return all the rentals and sell whatever was bought, wind up the bank and leave the warehouse/studio as they found it – empty of everything except maybe the dumpster awaiting pick-up. Most business accountants don’t see the full life cycle of a business – ever. So, the production personnel and production accountants have developed a niche for this kind of thing – especially, given the very specific type of budgeting and cost reporting that is entailed in such a fast life cycle.
All of this, and more, is covered in my workshops. My one hestitaion about a workshop is – How much should it cost? There will be $539 worth of software giveaways, as well as all the forms and templates you’ll need as an assistant film accountant, or as a new line producer starting up a smalish production.
Please leave me a blog with suggestions – I’m thinking in the $500 range, but not sure. What do you think?