If there’s one person on a film or television production who gets a peek at pretty much everything that’s going on at all times, it’s the production accountant.
Because a production accountant is involved with every part of the film and television production, understanding how to collaborate with your production accountant is paramount. To make the most out of working with your production accountant, it’s important to understand their responsibilities and how to set each other up for success. We asked our team of production accountants for some insight on their work and for their tips for fostering teamwork.
What is the role of a production accountant?
Managing a TV or film budget from beginning to end. Production accountants work with people across every department - department heads, unit production managers, assistant directors, and line producers - to tally up spending and produce reports on current and projected costs, including payroll for the cast and crew. They also meet regularly with studio heads or executive producers to report the state of a production’s finances.
What’s some advice you would give to a new producer working with their production accountant?
- Set clear goals and weekly reporting expectations
- Include a detailed wrap memo on Post job transitions
- Use digital solutions wherever possible
- Be prepared with information your accountant needs - W-9's, invoices, account coding, receipt copies, etc.
- Stay in contact and ask questions!
How do GreenSlate’s paperless solutions help streamline accounting processes?
The time saved for payroll and check processing is almost immeasurable!
GreenSlate's digital solutions help streamline the AP process and cut processing times, from digital PO submissions to cutting checks with digital signatures. The digital import tools allow us to do in minutes what would have taken hours or days in the past, or on another system. We recently imported 10 journal entries, covering 10 weeks ($700K+) of pre-production activity in Europe to a project's USD cost report within hours after receiving the request from a producer.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about production accounting?
- There is no such thing as a typical day for a production accountant. They work on a weekly cycle during which payroll will be processed, expenses will be input, accounts will be reconciled, check and electronic payments will be processed, cost reports & budgets will be reviewed, and reports will be updated and issued by the end of each week.
- The full extent of an accountant’s role. Production accountants are responsible for tracking all costs on a movie or TV show. Every dollar spent on a boom mic or a bolt of fabric for costumes goes through the production accountant, who monitors expenditures and makes sure the production is staying on budget — or predicts when it’s threatening to go over.
What is the most rewarding or interesting part of being a production accountant?
- “There's something spiritual about the debit/credit 2 sided accounting process when everything matches up. The numbers do not lie!” - Pete
- “Being able to be at the forefront of industry changes is what's most rewarding about being a GreenSlate production accountant. Seeing your name in the credits is exciting too.” - Michele
Looking for a production accountant for your next project? Our team has experience with every aspect of production accounting, and works hand-in-hand with our payroll and tax credit management teams, ensuring a seamless transition from prep through post. Our team members are expert users of our application, providing unmatched proximity to production data to help productions work efficiently. Learn more about our production accounting services.