About John

John GaskinOver the past 28 years I have worked on 50 different film productions of every size and shape – all as a film production accountant/auditor. It has been generally true that the smaller the production, the higher the degree of difficulty. For example, the two productions that I did with Ron Howard were simple in comparison to my first gig as a key accountant on classic ‘B’ film, “The Brain”. For the past couple of years I’ve been working more closely with producers and I have found out that I know more about filmmaking than I thought I had. So the purpose of this blog is to blog about filmmaking in whatever facet.

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33 Responses to About John

  1. Roy says:

    interesting site, thanks!

    • Robin M says:

      Wow! Johnny Boy.
      I just came across this site while google searching for a Acct / Corp to get my incorp set-up.

      Very Nice.
      Miss working with you. Hopefully again soon!

      • I’ve been up to my teeth in a film production and am just getting back to my blog. Just wanted to say thx for your post!

        Did you get your Corporation set up all right?

        Best
        John

  2. Cheryl says:

    Hi John,

    Great Job!. I’m a new at being a line producer in Philly, but your information on everything is valued highly by me. I plan on buying your book. Keep up the great work.

    Thanks

    • Thanks for your kind words, Cheryl. It’s always good to get a response. I see the stats of the number of hits, whic is all good, but it’s more fun to get a comment.

      All the best in your career in film.

      John

  3. Mate says:

    John,

    Great blog, keep up the good work! Need any info from Hungary, let me know!

    Cheers,

    Mate

  4. Atoy Wilson says:

    John –
    I just landed on your blog site and think it’s very informative. In fact, I was searching really for some data on Ease Entertainment and you had mentioned it in regard to the payroll/software companies here in Los Angeles. I have been a Production Accountant for the past 10 yrs, and have gone through that journey as you have exactly detailed e.g. clerk, file room, 2nd asst etc. The projects have been great, the job itself I love, but I have just had a big bout of unemployment for a few months. I’m hangin in there and trying to get my resume out there. I do want however to get on a big series….e.g. Boston Legal type show or on a large film. My shows have all fit nice and neatly in the Media Services domain which I have used almost exclusively. And I Key those shows. To move into the bigger leagues and use PSL3 or Vista I know that I’d enter the field as a 1st. No problems with that.
    But I’d love to be able to ask you questions in regard to our field. You seem to a great mentor and advisor. I as an accountant really appreciate that especially when I try to advise younger new accountants, and I don’t have nearly the knowledges you have. But the Divine Direction has gotten me this far and I now have a blog site (I’m an older guy who doesn’t know the blog world that well) I can go to.
    Keep up the great work. I assume you live here in Los Angeles? now.
    Sincerely,
    Atoy Wilson

  5. Agatha Smith says:

    When is the next production accountant workshop?

    • Hi, Agatha. Thx for commenting on my blog.

      The next workshop on film accounting will be this winter – probably late Jan, or early Feb. Where are you located?

      John

      • giselle says:

        I am located in NYC. Are there any production accountant workshops coming up soon in the east coast?

      • Thanks for inquiring, Giselle. The answer is probably this winter. I’m looking at a blast of 3 or 4 weeks, covering Michigan new York and Los Angeles. I’ll be doing a survey soon to see in what order and to what extent. It’s a weighty topic that I don’t want to do in half-measure, so it’s a matter of giving the workshop enough time and yet still affordable and can be done while those interested still have a chance to make a living.

        Keep an eye on my blog and you can be part of the survey.

        Best regards,
        John

      • Hi, Giselle. You had posted a question on my blog last November asking when I would be doing more workshops.

        I’m doing someworkshops again, in LA, Detroit, New York and Toronto – both in person (as a workshop) and also Live On-Line Training. Have a look at my website at http://www.talkfilm.biz

        Best
        John Gaskin

      • Hi, Agatha. You had posted a question on my blog last October asking when I would be doing more workshops.

        I’m doing someworkshops again, in LA, Detroit, New York and Toronto – both in person (as a workshop) and also Live On-Line Training. Have a look at my website at http://www.talkfilm.biz

        Best
        John Gaskin

  6. Tim Champ says:

    Greetings John,
    I have a specific question regarding the typical or preferred billing cycle on a TV or film production.

    As a vendor of production support equipment, cast trailers, 10 ton trucks, stakebeds, etc., should I expect to invoice the production on a weekly basis?

    For example, if I have a 5 cast trailers on a production for a project that will shoot for 20 weeks, should I expect to send 20 invoices for each piece of equipment over the term of the rental period? If so, would I establish one contract number for each trailer and simply extend the contract on a weekly basis?

    or

    Would I the production prefer to be invoiced on a different schedule?

    It just seems like a lot of invoicing and billing.

    Thanks,

    Tim

    • Hi, Tim. Thx for the question.
      The typical billing cycle is weekly but what’s more important for you is to get a Purchase Order from the production and to quote the purchase order number on your invoicing. Film/TV productions are used to a weekly billing, but it’s not absolutely necessary – it’s more a protection for you. As you may know, it’s not uncommon for film productions to run out of money. If you are getting paid weekly, then you’re out less money than you would be otherwise. Also, if you’re not getting paid on a weekly basis it’s a red-flag that the production is not getting it’s financing on time (as a side note, the film business is about the only business that pays weekly, more for an expedient of handling the volume than anything else.) Often I’ve seen small-time equipment suppliers in the business provide all of their weekly invoices at the beginning of production. The accountants like it that way, as it makes their payment of your invoice routine – again – make sure you have a Purchase Order number on your invoice. This guarantees that everyone in the production (UPM, Line producer, Production Accountant) have agreed that you’re in the cash flow line up and reduces your chances of getting stiffed.

      I hope that helps,
      Best
      John

  7. Emma says:

    Hi John,
    I am currently working for a production accounting company in Australia doing payroll and post production work. I have only been there 6 months and prior to that I was a management accountant for 5 years but had always wanted to find a way in to the film industry.
    I am very keen to get my first role as an assistant accountant on a film but I feel that there are not that many film productions currently in Australia. Do you have any advice on how to find my way on to a production in the US or the UK?
    Also when are you next running your workshops? It is so hard to find good educational material on production accounting!
    Many thanks,
    Emma

    • Hi, Emma. It’s very hard to get working visas in the US right now. The recession and all that. It’s probably easier for you to work in the UK on a 6 month traveler’s visa – does that still exist? I have been working hard at a visa for a few months and it looks like I’ve just been able to get an O-1 Visa – I just need to get it in my passport now and then I’m good for a year.

      The thing about film production is that it’s boom or bust. When it happens you need to be on top of it immediately. There have been, and will continue to be, film productions in Australia, especially in the Sydney side of the continent. So, if you haven’t already, get in touch with the film commissions and any local film accountants, meet them, send out resumes, etc. Your post-accounting experience will put you at the top of the list of those who’ve never worked in film accounting before. Be ready and when it happens it’ll happen within a couple of days.

      Your other option is to just go to the UK and try your luck. What the heck – Aussie’s do it all the time. I have great admiration for Aussies. Way back in 1970 I met several Aussies while I was hitchhiking and working my way through Europe and North Africa. One young Aussie woman that I met in Spain particularly stands out – she was more adventurous and up-beat than any other woman I have ever met before or since. She hitch-hiked, worked, danced, laughed, right around the world, and all the while wore lipstick, dress shoes, looked clean and presentable (you have to understand it was the ‘hippy’ era so she really stood out ‘straight’ but could hold her own with group of Moroccan Arabs in any old casbah and that’s saying something). She was from outside of Perth – maybe those sheep farmers are tougher :))

      When it comes to film accounting education – yeah, nothing out there. I have set up some free podcasts which you sign up for on my web site http://www.talkfilm.biz Currently I’m working on a series of recorded webinars to teach SAG Payroll, DGA Payroll and IATSE Payroll. If an American production goes to Australia, knowing SAG payroll would put you ahead of the pack.

      I know personally know two production accountants who have worked in Australia in the past, but they’re both back and I haven’t heard anything new about them traveling there again. However, stay in touch, signup for the free podcasts, and that way I’ll be able to make an announcement if I hear anything going to down-under.
      Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

      Best regards,
      John Gaskin

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  9. Carolyn says:

    John,

    For the last year I have been actively searching for a career change. I currently am a public accountant and tax preparer(20 years).and a partner of a small firm. I recently started financial advising by getting my required licenses. The reason I did this was to help generate more income.
    Anyway, I still want to relocate and have a more exciting,challenging, active and diverse career. I was watching the OWN network and thought of how I would like to work for Harpo Studios because of the positive force it seems to have. I started researching online and one click lead to another and I ran across your site. I was shaking with excitement as it seems to meet the dream job I had been searching for.
    I have the accounting background but not the production background. How can I learn that? Does your workshops cover that avenue? Are production accountant training courses? Would I even have a chance without the production/film experience?

    I thank you for caring enough to help others!
    Carolyn

    • Hi, Carolyn. Thank you for your kind words. It’s interesting that while you were writing this comment I was delivering a workshop in Atlanta to several people with backgrounds and goals just like yours. There are many CPA’s out there that have their own businesses, or work for big firms, who just want to learn more about this crazy film business. In my last two workshops I had three CPA’s who have their own practices and each of whom have film producer(s) as clients. These producers bring challenges to the table that are often more challenging than they wanted, but nevertheless each CPA was “into it”.

      Your lack of experience in production can be obviated simply by learning the terms and processes from a production accounting viewpoint. The producers need a film production accountant who understands the “lingo” of the business but doesn’t necessarily know how to produce a film. With your background and your enthusiasm you would figure out the film accounting processes and terms in no time.

      As far as finding work goes – there’s only one way and that’s to do it. That may sound glib and unfeeling, but it just happens to be the truth. Where are you located geographically? Are there any productions in your State that you can visit?

      If possible come to one of my workshops in Atlanta – see my web site at http://www.talkfilm.biz and see which ones interest you. I recommend the “Film Accounting & Auditing” workshop on Oct 15th (or maybe it’s Oct 16th, not sure right now – have a look see).

      Stay in touch!

      A

  10. Justin Conley says:

    Hi John,

    Currently, I’m a junior at Washington and Jefferson College (a small liberal arts college in western PA) and I have recently discovered the world of film production accounting. I have always been infatuated with film, but have had little guidance in the industry. I’m about to finish my junior year and have had several internships, one being with Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The PWC internship offered many potential, beneficial aspects including high pay and job security, BUT more importantly, it made me realize that I had no passion to work for PWC. Having said that, coming across your blog has been very informative and almost a godsend to me. I have read your section about “how to become a film accountant” and more than anything I want to pursue this career. Basically, I’m lost on who to contact for internships in this field and how to go about it. I know your very busy and must get a lot of emails, but if there is any advice you could offer me that would tremendously helpful. Your blog is terrific and very helpful!

    Take care,

    Justin

    • Hi, Justin. Thx for commenting. Yes, the tough part about film accounting is that there aren’t any head-hunters you can go to, no university degrees you can take, no particular places you can apply, etc. But at the same time, that’s what makes it cool. Since you live in PA, Google M. Night Shyamalan. He likes to produce his stuff in Pennsylvania (probably more on the East side though). Simply call up his office and ask. It’s ballsy, but that’s what makes film people different – not afraid to put themselves forward (at least a bit, anyway). I always respect someone more if they actually call me, or send me an email. Go for it! If that doesn’t work, try someone else….

      Good luck in your search and let me know how it goes.

      Best / John

  11. Rachel Moon says:

    John,

    I would love to hear about any upcoming workshops you are planning. You seem extremely knowledgeable about film accounting and I am very interested in the business. I have been a staff accountant for both a public accounting firm and a private not-for-profit organization for the past 3 years and I am currently looking for a new venture. I have a BS in accounting and am currently sitting for the cpa exam. I know you are busy but would love for you to email me any information you feel might be useful to me.
    I am currently in the Oklahoma area, my husband is in the Air Force so we do travel a lot. Does this field of work hire outside of the local area? I can travel but could not relocate to the LA area.

    Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you,

    Rachel

    • Hi, Rachel. Thx very much for your nice comment. Yes, I am just now planning a series of workshops. Helene, my wife and assistant extraordinaire, will be sending you a better email of the workshops and their locations.

      You’re a perfect candidate for the film industry, it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The best way to understand the film accounting idiosyncracies is to do the Film Accounting 101, and/or the series of on-line live webinars.

      More soon,

      Best / John

  12. H. Mariano says:

    Hi, John. My name is H. Mariano from Florida, its my first year as a bookkeeper in an accounting firm called Quick Bookkeeping & Accounting LLC. I have always wanted to get in to the Media Production Industry but the same time I share great passion for a career in Accounting. First I would like to say that your blog has help me a lot your blog to clear a lot of my doubts. Now my question if you don’t mind me asking is where did you learn all your film production accounting knowledge, was it in college, books, continued education courses, a film school, self-taught? If you could recommend me a book, a college or any film production school, continued education course,etc. What will it be?

    Thanks in advance. Good Luck.
    Mariano.

    PS: Keep posting your articles are great keep it up!

    • Thx for commenting. You sound like you have a lively interest in film accounting. The difficulty with learning anything about film accounting is that there hasn’t been anything published about it – at least until my blog. I have a book written in an easy fashion – not pendantic at all – which was written with non-accountants in mind. It’s called Walk The Talk and I sell it as an E-Book off my web site. Hard copies can also be bought at the Showbiz Bookstores (one in Los Angeles, the other in New York). I think it’s the only one out there. My web site is http://www.talkfilm.biz

  13. Meditz Productions says:

    Hi John,

    Thank you for a truly fantastic blog. I’m an independent film-maker, and I’ve found your tips to be very helpful, and entertaining to read as well. Keep it up!

  14. Pingback: Assessment 2 – Case Study

    • Interesting write-up. It looks like you took quite a thoughtfull look at my blog. It’s very cool to have another blogger review my blog – sometimes I wonder if the visitors to my blog are just too polite to be critical, so your write-up was validating and I thank you. I’m curious to know how you came to choose my blog as your case study. How do you find the stats of other blogs? I can see within the background of WordPress that thousands, even 10’s of thousands, visit my blog, but I never thought to compare stats with others – I think it’s a good idea to see other successful blogs to see if their succesful actions would work for me. You didn’t comment on the videos that I have – would you say that’s working?

      I wish you well in your writing career. I’ve visited your blog and it’s very clean with excellent clear pictures and clean presentations. It’s encouraged me to use more pictures.

      Best regards / John

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