The Business of Media – The Art of Managing Costs

Once you have the project sold, and the budget is “locked”, the business of film, television and animation production is all about managing costs. Cost overruns during production and post-production are hyped in the news, but in the vast majority of projects – it doesn’t happen because it CAN’T happen; at least, not if you want to work in the industry anymore.


There is a simple trick to managing the production costs. You need to put into place the 6 basic functions of film accounting, know the workflow of the few “usual” accounting forms and keep an eye on the locked budget.

The “art” of managing the costs is knowing when and where to allow cost overruns by having in your back pocket under-budget line items to offset.


But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s first look at the 6 basic film accounting functions:


As you can see each function has a form, or in the case of payroll 2 or more forms, each of which require approvals before processing. Simply by getting yourself on the approval line, and having a good understanding of the budget, you are (bingo) managing the costs as they happen.

The art of managing is in the report which crunches all the numbers into the “Cost Report”.

The simple name “Cost Report” doesn’t convey the weight of this career maker/breaker; however, say the word “Cost Report” to any producer and he/she will immediately focus all available attention units in your direction.

The art is in managing the Cost Report.

Come see my web site for more info and more workshops coming up at

Cheers / John


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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