Getting Work In Film Accounting/Production- Attitudes Count

Since I decided to do a series of workshops on Film Budgeting, Accounting & Auditing it’s occurred to me many times that I need to instill an attitude as much as accounting & budgeting skill. This is not just true for those who want to work in Film Accounting, but is also true for Public Accountants & Line Producers who come to the workshop for entirely different reasons.

Here’s the dilemma:

– how do you present something that is fundamentally a skill but is primarily an attitude? Man, it’s a difficult thought process.

Within each workshop I try not to make any promises of work…. that is, to promise that the attendees will fall out of the workshop, certficate in hand, and find a producer, production manager, key accountant who will hire them on the spot. There is an attitude prevalent amongst all who work in the film industry that unless you’ve been-there-done-that then you just can’t do it.So, it’s my task to not only give you a skill, but to introduce you to the attitudes of those hiring you. I usually do that through relating actual events that have happened to me, so as to give you concepts that you can relate to your own life.

Because I have worked in such a wide range of professions in my early days:

-Land Surveyor,

-Engineer,

-bottom end of a major public accounting firm,

-Controller at a Bank,

-high-priced-temp-Accountant for a variety of industries,

-small private bookkeeping & tax practice

I can see attitudes from across the room. One glance let’s me know how tough the person is going to be to deal with. In the Film Industry you’re dealing with attitudes that are deep in the fabric of everyone who is involved in it.

And…. one of those attitudes is – you don’t understand what it’s like, so you may not “make it”. This kind of pre-assumption of failure doesn’t allow for any training – at least within a film or television production environment. The old phrase, “Many are called but few are chosen” comes to mind. If a training environment IS provided, it’s quite likely an internship (a euphemism for NO PAY).

What can I do to help you to overcome that barrier? Well, I definitely lay it on the line – knowing this Film Attitude (i.e. pre-assumption of failure) is usually behind every interview is a big factor inn dealing with it. Also, I drill you (that is have you practice several times) so that you are no longer intimidated by the film accounting process, or the attitude of the production manager or film accountant, which is more important (remember what I said about the film industry and attitudes).

Another thing that’s important is to have the ability to speak up and to have a sense of humor. This is not a platitude, although it sounds like one. When the pressure is on, when you’re working 12 hour days, and the Key Accountant throws a BF, it’s expected that YOU don’t.  The only way to avoid getting caught up in a shouting match is to keep your sense of humor.

How do you do that? There have been a few times when I didn’t, but immediately afterward I could see what’s going on and I’d do a face-to-face conversation with whoever – it pretty much always works if you understand the film business and if you look at the positive side of the film attitudes towards work (and life).

There are positive sides to the Film Attitude – the fact that film and television productions get done at all is due to the PUSH attitude. There are so many collaborative steps to produce and distribute a feature film or television show that the longer I’m in the business the more amazed I am that so many productions are made! (On the other side of the coin I’m also amazed at why so many people make it so hard on themselves while they’re making them).

Enough said – here’s the point:

There are downsides and there are upsides to the Film Attitude, and overall the upsides are admirable. If you want to work in any aspect of the film business, especially in film accounting, you need to know what they are and you need to know something of how to deal with them…. as well as have your film accounting skills honed.

Until the next blog….

John

See my web site at http://www.talkfilm.biz for scheduled workshops, articles, etc.

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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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