Accounting in TV/film production


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At one of my recent management accounting lectures, my students had the pleasure of been given a short talk by an accountant who worked in the TV/film sector. There is quite a lot going on in Northern Ireland in this arena (think Game of Thrones etc). While I have often noticed the “Production Accountant” title on movie/TV credits, I have never really thought about what the role entails.

As I learned from the talk, the one name on the credits typically hides a whole team of accountants. Another thing I learned is the vast range of tasks production accounting entails. The tasks include legal aspects (e.g. employment law), payroll, bookkeeping, planning costs, tracking costs and many more things (see here). Having heard what production accounting involves, it struck me that it is an amazing learning ground for early career accountants and/or accounting graduates, as you have to deal with all aspects of accounting.

To add to the broad role, production accounting will vary by location as filming locations can be in different countries/legal jurisdictions. Thus for example, you would have to require knowledge of local GAAP, local tax rules and local business law. Thus there is a potential to learn about international environments.

The Production Guild has prepared some useful resources for production accounting and you can find them here . These resources reflect the broad nature of the tasks, as mentioned. As an example, an asset register reflects that some production assets may be purchased and moved from one production to another – very similar to an asset used in a construction contract. Another example is a template to capture the budget and actual costs of artists (actors) in a production.

One downside to being a production accountant may be that you are typically self-employed. Having said that, if you are an accountant in practice you may be self-employed regardless.

About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

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