Film Accounting – Training

The person wanting to break-in to Film Accounting as a profession has a very hard time of it. The film producers don’t budget for “training” – they want somebody to walk into the position and GO-GO-GO. Meanwhile, there are several States, like Louisiana, Michigan, Georgia, etc that have a plethora of productions but need to bring in film accountants, and their assistants from out-of-State (primarily Los Angeles and New York).

Is Film Accounting That Different?

It’s not that film accounting is particularly difficult. It’s the same principles as other industries, like construction for instance. The big three functions of Bookkeeping, Auditing and Reporting are true for film accounting just as they are for other industries. The biggest difference is rooted in the old “apprenticeship” mind-set of the film industry. Most film accountants aren’t certified accountants in any other field. They are simply smart people, not allergic to fast pace and long hours, who have apprenticed into that position. The apprenticeship system still works, but when more and more demand is put on film producers to produce faster, cheaper, better, there’s less and less room for an apprentice.

Who Can Apprentice?

Any accountant or bookkeeper would find it a fast rise to the top, provided they can fit in with the industry – that is, their personalities don’t clash with the rough and tumble scene of filmmaking – long-ish hours, good pay, contract work, some travel, etc.

How To Solve This Quandary?

The only way I know of is to train film assistant accountants in the film industry specific practices, terminology and systems in a controlled environment where practice at a slow pace is permitted and then more practice brings the pace up to a standard acceptable by film producers. Do an intensive workshop, like the one I’m doing next in Louisiana on May 15/16, 2010.

See my website at http://www.talkfilm.biz for more details and when/where. I have done workshops in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Florida.

Link with me on LinkedIn for workshop announcements in your area.

Regards to all,

John Gaskin

Veteran of 45 film and television productions in 5 different countries. See IMDb for credits.

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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'.

2 Responses to Film Accounting – Training

  1. Barbara Gates CPA/NM Film Accountant says:

    Me again. Have you any information on a small to medium sized accounting software program that is industry specific?

    Thanks,
    Barbara Gates, CPA

    • The industry specific accounting programs are designed for Film Production. As such, the balance sheet reporting is neglected (since the production company ends up with only funding accounts and expense accounts). The uniqueness of the software is the way the purchase orders are treated like a part of the General Ledger and the standard Cost Report is created withing the accounting software. (There are other helpful modules, like Petty Cash entry modules, ways to cope with multiple currencies, etc).

      Unfortunately, the only accounting software available are leased to the production by one of the 4 payroll services – for free if you use their payroll service, but for a cost if you don’t. The cost is usually in the $2,000 range per production, although even then they are reluctant to talk to you. The newest payroll service has the most current technology, and is also very service oriented. I would call there first. The payroll service is Ease Entertainment. Call 310-469-7300 and ask for Jeff Smith – mention my name, and he should be able to direct you to the right person.

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