Would you like a career as a production accountant? Are you not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we will be detailing all of the different ways that you can get into film production accounting, explaining the salary expectations, where you can find jobs, and more!
The job of a production accountant shouldn’t be overlooked, as it’s an extremely important role that requires a lot of hard work and focus. So, make sure that you keep reading to discover everything you need to know about the role!
So, what is a production accountant? Put simply, they are in charge of managing the finances during a TV or film production. This also includes all financial records related to the project.
Furthermore, they are in charge of budgeting for the shoot, and possibly preparing the necessary schedules to go along with it. They will also need to manage the accounts day to day and any financial reporting. They are also in charge of the paychecks for the employees of the production company. As you can see, they have a lot of responsibilities! Keep reading to find out what these are in more depth.
Now, it’s time to examine the main film production accountant responsibilities.
Before filming even begins there are plenty of responsibilities that fall to the production accountant. This is the time that they will work closely alongside the production managers and producers to estimate the final costs of production.
They will also help to prepare budgets and outline all of the necessary costs. This is where good communication skills are vital, as everyone needs to be on the same page about the costs and expenses of production.
So, what about their responsibilities during production? Your film production accounting duties don’t let up during this time! You will be overseeing all payments, managing the payroll, and updating everyone with weekly or daily cost reports depending on what the production company wishes. Things can change during the production of a film, due to unforeseen events. This will involve the production accountant needing to budget for any changes.
There will also be something called a statement of account to prepare which will detail all of the expenditure and income for the production company.
Some companies will also require an independent audit, depending on how the film project is being financed. Therefore, the production accountant may need to deal with banks and completion guarantors. If the project is a large one with a big budget, then the production company may decide to also work with finance controllers. This is a permanent role, as people will be permanently employed by the studio.
Have you found yourself wondering how to become a production accountant? If so, you are not alone.
First of all, it’s important to sit down and have a think about what route you would like to go down, as this will heavily influence your next steps. For example, you could decide to go down the education route, which will see you attending college and university to get a qualification in accounting. Or you could work your way up as an intern and gain the relevant experience that you need in a hands-on manner. Finally, you could consider taking a ‘DIY’ approach and teaching yourself the skills that you require to become a successful production accountant.
So, what qualifications do you need to become a production accountant?
You could attend university to obtain a degree in accountancy. For example, at The Open University, you can obtain your degree in BA (Honours) Business Management (Accounting) (Q91-ACC). This is a great option if you want to obtain your degree while staying at home, as this university is made for distance learning.
Another great option for you is The University of Manchester, as here you can study BSc Accounting. To be eligible to study on this course you will need three A grades in your A levels in related subjects. So, keep this in mind before you choose your college courses. A good idea would be to talk to a careers advisor and explain the career path you would like to go down. They can then advise you on the best courses.
Overall, going down the route of education is great, as it will provide you with a high level of the skills that you will need as a production accountant. However, you won’t necessarily need a degree to get the job. After all, some people will become qualified as a bookkeeper and then work their way up the career ladder with this qualification as opposed to a degree.
You also have the option of taking a short course. Ideally, this will be in film production accounting, as this will be the most helpful course for your career. For example, there’s a course called Production Accounting for Film and Television diploma at The National Film and Television School (NFTS). This course covers a range of useful topics, such as budgeting, cash flow, forecasting, cost reporting, sourcing finance, production set up, completion guarantors, and more. This course will provide you with a qualification that can help you to stand out from other job applicants.
A fantastic option from the Production Guild is the Payroll training course. Again, this is a great option for those people who can’t travel to different locations. This course covers topics like establishing the difference between industry agreements, understanding and cutting timesheets, understanding the payroll of different jobs within the production company, and more.
We understand that going down the education route won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. With this in mind, let’s examine the ways that you can production accountant without qualifications.
Firstly, you could consider becoming an intern. This could be an assistant to a production company, or even better, working in the accounts department. For example, you could start out as a cashier and then work your way up to the role of assistant production accountant. This is a great way of working your way up the ranks in a relevant role in the film industry.
The same goes for tv production accounting, get your foot in the door by beginning your career as an intern or as an assistant to the main production accountant. This will gain you similar experience to film production accounting.
Also, consider learning the relevant skills that you need. Chances are that you have a talent for Mathematics, but you can always learn more. Check out YouTube videos, and enhance your skills. You could also set up tests for yourself or do tests that you find on the internet to help keep your skills sharp.
When it comes to being hired, there are some things that you can do to help you stand out from the other applicants. For example, you should work on your organisational and communication skills. These are vital attributes for a successful production accountant. After all, they will need to keep many types of financial records in the correct order and be able to successfully communicate this with the other production crew members.
They should also have a good eye for detail, and this ties in with our previous point about honing your mathematics skills. Finally, it’s going to be a great idea to demonstrate your knowledge of the filmmaking process. This can be achieved by researching and watching videos about the filmmaking process. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of everything, just the basics, as this will be able to help you get your head around all of the costs for each department and the overall budgeting systems.
So, you feel like the time has come to find production accountant jobs, but where do you look? It’s a good idea to sign up to all of the relevant job sites, like Indeed, Totaljobs, Reed, and LinkedIn. These job sites regularly advertise for filming jobs, with production accountant jobs included.
They also list all of the qualifications, skills, and experience that they require the candidate to have. This is useful, as you can make an assessment and decide if the job will be suitable for you. Make sure that you keep an eye out for film production accountant jobs on job sites, as well as newspapers, and you’re bound to find a role that suits you very soon.
Now it’s time to talk salary and examine how much a production account can earn. It is highly likely that you will become a freelance production accountant. The day rate is generally around the £275 per day mark. Production accountants will often work a long number of hours, as there’s a large body of work to complete in a relatively short period of time. It’s fairly common for production accountants to take time off between projects to give themselves a break. The role can also require you to work overtime, which means longer hours, but you will be making extra money.
There are some permanent production accountant jobs, and therefore the production accountant salary will vary in comparison to the freelance rate. The salary can range from £28,000 to £60,000 per year. The salary that you earn will also depend on your experience and qualifications in the industry, so keep this in mind when you decide to freelance or take on a permanent role.
And that now concludes our guide on film production accounting. We hope that this guide was helpful to you and that it can help you to land your dream role of production accountant! As we have discovered, there are a couple of ways that you can achieve this. You can go down the education route and obtain a relevant degree. On the other hand, you may decide to work your way up through the ranks or become an intern. Make sure that you choose the best route for you, as everyone has different preferences.
You should also remember that your salary will depend on whether you have taken on a permanent role, or if you’re working as a freelancer. It’s more common for production accountants to work as a freelancer due to the changing and fast-paced nature of the film and TV industry. Remember to work on your communication and organisational skills, as these skills will go a long way to helping you become successful as a production accountant.
Good luck with finding your next production accountant role! Remember that there are plenty of job sites for you to look through, that will list all of the skills that you will need to complete that particular job. Production accountant is a great career that will require a great deal of hard work, so make sure that you persevere.
Head on over to the Music Gateway blog if you would like to learn more about the film industry. For example, you can read How to Become a Filmmaker, How to Write a Script, the ultimate guide on Foley Sound, and lots more!
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