Accounting Outside The Box

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Movie Production Accounting

Movie Production Accounting

2010 was a year in which a long-held dream of mine came true. I am a huge movie buff and I often sit through the credits. I wanted to break into movie production accounting and see my name on the big screen, but I didn’t know how I would make that dream a reality. In the summer of 2010, Sara Elizabeth Timmins asked me to be the accountant on her movie, Lake Effects (Please note: IMDB still has not approved me, or one of the principal stars, Casper Van Dien, so I may or may not be in the crew credits yet!).

Production began in October at Smith Mountain Lake and I was busier than I imagined between the movie and my regular client load. I had tried to find out what I needed to do in terms of movie production accounting, but found a lack of information so I had to learn on the job. I worked closely with the co-producer, Scott Bridges. Scott has his own production company, Sure Crossing Films, and he is very knowledgeable. I was able to combine my 20+ years of accounting and payroll experience with Scott’s knowledge and make a success of my endeavor. Scott told me repeatedly, “For someone who has never done movie production accounting, you are doing some of the best work I have seen.” I still have some things to learn, but I feel more than qualified to continue working in the movie industry in the capacity of accountant. What I learned about working in film:

  1. You have to be flexible and able to change directions quickly.
  2. Hire a payroll company that specifically deals with SAG (Screen Actors Guild) rules.
  3. Watch the budget-to-actual on a daily basis.
  4. Organization is a must!
  5. Enjoy being part of the creative process.

Currently, the Virginia Film Office is accepting grant applications for 2011. One advantage to using me as the production accountant on movies filmed in Virginia, if the production company receives a grant, is that a percentage (currently 20%) of my wages will be reimbursed under the grant. Some additional benefits include my extensive accounting, payroll, and tax knowledge, and my intuitive ability to work with creative people.