Film Accountants and ‘Energy’

There’s so much money floating around during film production, so many ways to twist and turn, so many demands on time that it can all get pretty overwhelming. Somehow, somewhere the film accountant has to generate some energy to deal with it all. Sounds simple enough, right? Hmmm… Let’s see what reduces my energy the most.

When you’re a production accountant you’re often pigeon-holed right away.

  1. The cast & crew consider that you’re very much a service department.
  2. The financiers consider that you are their watchdog/auditor.
  3. The producers and production manager swing back and forth between considering you their best friend or their worst enemy).

This kind of evaluation all too often leads to a defensive attitude from veteran accountants – displayed as cranky at best and downright mean spirited at the worst. And, man, does that every sap the energy out of you. There’s nothing as draining as being forced to defend your position, or just plain being angry, either openly or privately.

This is where generating energy comes into play. The word ‘energy’ is used more in the film business than any other business that I know. I’ve seen good people lose a contract because they didn’t exhibit ‘energy’ when interviewed. Some creative people throw the word around without pre-defining what it means to them, leaving the listener wondering if there’s some cool new definition of energy that they hadn’t heard before.

Usually I’ve heard the word ‘energy’ used with this meaning,


“Get creative in finding a solution to this particular problem that has no apparent solution”.

That’s my made-up definition based on the way I hear it being used the majority of the time. So, let’s look at the agreed upon definition in the Oxford dictionary – the ‘last word’ in dictionaries.

In my workshops, when talking about ‘Finding Work’, I actually take a good dictionary and read the definition of energy. Here’s one of the definitions of ‘energy’ in my Oxford:


“The capacity for activity.” (The derivation goes back to the Greek word ergon, WORK).

Let’s look up the word, ‘capacity’. The definition in my Oxford dictionary is:


“The power of containing, receiving, experiencing, or producing; e.g. the capacity for heat.”

Okay. So, energy does not mean immediately running around, or leaping to immediate action. It means that there is a CAPACITY to do that, and when called for, that POWER can be called to action.

Where does that lead us…. ??

It leads me to conclude that there must be a way to at least stop draining my Energy, my Capacity, my Power – and that way is to stop being so damned cranky, quick to accuse, thrust-and-stab at the first poor bozo to screw up around me. That definitely sucks the energy out of me, and along with that, my power.

So, what’s the opposite of cantankerous?

Here’s another word that I like to show my workshop attendees.


“A cheerful disregard for worries or concerns.” (The derivation goes back to French, not Latin, as meaning lack of caring).

Now…. This can be an excuse to abandon all work, but looked at intelligently, by a working individual in the Film Business, someone who has the permission and encouragement to be creative, insouciance sounds pretty workable to me. Have some fun with the crew when they’re serious. Tell a joke to the producer. Wing it now and then.

Yeah, when I do it my energy level soars.

Try it. Especially you film accountants. We need all the tips we can get.


About filmproduction
I have worked in the film production industry since 1985, working on over 50 different productions of every size in 6 different countries. My self-published book, "Walk The Talk" is written in an easy to read manner for film students and working professionals who haven't had the chance to learn how to 'Direct the Money'.

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