Online Film Production Payroll Courses

For several years now I have been teaching the functions of a Film Production Payroll Accountant. The job is in high demand, and is well paid; however, outside of my one or two workshops a year there is no avenue for someone to learn that role. So, drawing on my experience of fun and effective weekend workshops, I have developed a series of online film payroll courses. But, first let’s backup and look at the role of a Film production Accountant and what his/her skills must be.

 

SKILL OF THE FILM PRODUCTION PAYROLL ACCOUNTANT

So what does a Film Production Payroll Accountant do? The Payroll Accountant has nothing to do with the processing of government and union deductions and benefits. That’s almost always processed by one of a handful of Entertainment Payroll Services. The skill that the payroll accountant gets paid for is his/her smooth application of the various union and guild payroll rules.

AGREEMENTS WITH THE AMPTP

The unions and guilds commonly paid by a Film Production Payroll Accountant are SAG (cast), Director’s Guild (the Unit Production Manager and the various Assistant Directors), IATSE (Crew) and Teamsters (Drivers). (I am ignoring the Writer’s Guild only because there is usually one person to pay and that fee is usually arranged and known well before production starts). Each of these unions/guilds make agreements with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers). Some of these agreements are monsters (the SAG Agreement is in the range of 700 pages); however, there are very specific rules within each of the Agreements related to payroll.

THE USUAL PAYROLL CATEGORIES THE FILM PAYROLL ACCOUNTANT MUST KNOW

The Film Production Payroll Accountant knows where to find those rules, and has become very familiar with the references. I always make a summary of the applicable rules, which I call my “Cheat Sheet”. That summary is usually no more than a page and half long, widely spaced.

I do “Cheat Sheets” for each Guild, each IATSE Agreement and each Teamster Agreement. The usual breakdown of guild/union Agreements is:

  • SAG Schedule A (Day Performers),
  • SAG Schedule B (Weekly Performers),
  • SAG Schedule C (Weekly Performers paid in a higher range) and Schedule F Performers (Deal Performers paid in even a higher range)
  • NOTE: There are more SAG Schedules; however, if you know the Schedule A and B rules you can then very easily pickup the payroll rules associated with the other Schedules, including the payment of Schedule C , F and Stunts)
  • DGA (UPM and all levels of Assistant Directors),
  • IATSE Low Budget Theatrical (for any feature film production across America and Canada less than $14.2 Million)
  • IATSE Area Standards (applies to all Television and Features greater than $14.2Million throughout middle America including Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, DC, Florida, etc but excluding the New York and surrounding area)
  • IATSE Basic Agreement (Crew on the West Coast 14 States) and
  • IATSE New York Area (generally known as east Coast rules).

This short video introducing the Area Standards  helps to differentiate the IATSE geographical breakdown of their various Agreements.

FOUR TYPES OF PAYROLL RULES TO HIGHLIGHT IN EACH AGREEMENT

The world of union and guild agreements can get overwhelming, so just remember that the payroll accountant just needs to concentrate on FOUR types pf payroll rules:

  • Overtime,
  • Violation of Rest Periods,
  • Violation of Meal Periods and,
  • finally, any Travel related rules and allowances.

All of the Agreements highlight those rules. It’s simply a matter of breaking that ground in an orderly manner, and getting familiar with the rules through practice.

USING AN LMS (Learning Management System) TO CREATE ONLINE COURSES

A couple of years ago I went out of my way to produce two really sparkling online courses from which I’ve received positive feedback. I used an LMS (Learning Management System) called Skyprep. It allows me to use clear mp4 videos, to link easily to downloadable material, and even offer tests and certificates.

Due to the success of those two courses, SAG Schedule A and SAG Schedule B, I decided to use Skyprep to update three more online payroll courses. The new courses are:

 

DGA (payroll for UPM’s, 1st AD’s, key 2nd AD’s, 2nd 2nd AD’s and additional AD’s):

DAG payroll is deceptively tricky. At first glance it would appear to be straightforward, and indeed it is; however, a lot is happening on that timesheet. This course takes you though their salaries, production fees, extended days, rest period violations, completion of assignment and their various “allowances”.

The course includes:

  • 7 instructional videos,
  • links to a bookmarked Article 13 of the DGA Basic Agreement (which covers all payroll factors),
  • a Power Point of the course,
  • a One-Page Cheat sheet describing each element of payroll as well as the reference to the Article 13 of the DGA BA,
  • and Excel time-card templates formulated for your ease of calculating DGA payroll in future.

Watch this short YouTube video to see how it works and what the course includes.

 

IATSE Area Standards Payroll:

The IATSE Area Standards crew payroll covers all television and features over $14.2 million throughout middle America (including Georgia, Louisiana, DC, Ohio, Mississippi, etc).

This course takes you though all payroll related rules pertaining to the payment of crew payroll, including overtime, rest period violations, meal penalty calculations and related travel rules including the payment of “idle time”.

The course includes:

  • 6 instructional videos,
  • Links to all materials required,
  • A bookmarked IATSE Area Standards Agreement for easy reference of each payroll element,
  • a One-Page Cheat sheet describing each element of payroll as well as the reference to the Agreement,
  • and Excel time-card templates formulated for each of Feature and Television rules, for your ease of calculating IATSE Area Standards payroll in future.

Have a look at this short video to see the map that Area Standards covers – it’s a big chunk of production in America – and how the course works.

 

IATSE Low Budget Theatrical is applicable to crew payroll for all feature film productions throughout America that has a budget less than $14.2 Million.

This course takes you though all payroll related rules pertaining to the payment of crew payroll, including overtime, rest period violations, meal penalty calculations and related travel rules including the payment of “idle time”.

The course includes:

  • 7 instructional videos,
  • Links to all materials required,
  • A bookmarked IATSE Low Budget Theatrical Agreement for easy reference of each payroll element,
  • A One-Page Cheat sheet describing each element of payroll as well as the reference to the Agreement,
  • A Power Point of the course
  • and Excel time-card templates formulated for the rules of the agreement, for your ease of calculating IATSE Low Budget Theatrical payroll in future.

Have a look at this short video to see how the course works and how thoroughly the materials are covered.

For more information see www.filmaccounting.com

Online Courses for the west Coast and the east Coast, as well as Teamsters, is in development. I have the Excel Templates made, as well as the one page cheat sheets and bookmarked Agreements, I just need to complete the teaching videos and assemble the elements into online courses.

Note: I continue to deliver weekend workshops when we have a group of 15-20 persons committed to attending.                                                                 For details please contact Helene at heleneworkshops@gmail.com

 

Cheers / John

 

 

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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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