What does a Production Accountant do?
Like any other type of accountant, a Production Accountant oversees the finances of a project, however they are based on set. They are the ones to keep track of every expenditure, calculating the budget and cashflow.
They are usually freelancers who are brought onboard for a particular film or TV production, however permanent roles do exist at the larger studios and production companies, where a need for a production accountant is almost constant.
In the pre-production stage, they’ll work with the producers and director to determine budgets and spending plans. They may also assist in structuring production finance, ensuring the funds are in place to allow filming to commence. As the project enters production, their role focuses on managing payments, payroll and weekly expenditure reports, plus calculating the cost implications of any production changes.
Once a shoot is finished, the Production Accountant will produce accounts statements highlighting all the income and expenditure for the production company and financiers.
What skills does a Production Accountant need?
Accountancy: This is fairly self-explanatory. A Production Accountant needs to understand bookkeeping, plus have knowledge about various tax and insurance regulations.
Software: Many productions use specialist finance software to keep on top of the books. One software suite is Movie Magic Budgeting, though others are available. A Production Accountant must be able to use this software comfortably.
Production Understanding: While they don’t need to know the ins and outs of a production, they must understand the whole process and be able to adapt to any changes when necessary.
Who does a Production Accountant work with?
Production Accountants will run a small accounting team that could consist of an Assistant Production Accountant plus a cashier or trainee.
They will regular contact with producers and production management, keeping them up to date with the latest costs through daily and weekly reports.
How to become a Production Accountant?
There are several career paths to become a Production Accountant. Starting from entry level roles, graduates can enter as accounting trainees, progressing through the cashier and assistant roles
However, many production accountants have moved into that function of others involved in the production process. Production Coordinators and Managers make a sideways move as they’re already managing budgets on a daily basis, while qualified accountants from outside the industry may step in.
Gaining experience as a Production Accountant can be valuable to your career, especially a strong understanding of financing productions through various means, setting up and managing budgets and delivering final accounting reports.
Production Accountants may choose to stick with the numbers and progress to a Head of Production Finance role within a studio. They are responsible for putting together the funding package for productions. However, Production Accountants with some production experience could progress to a Line Producer role to manage budgets, costs and schedules.