Every business sector needs a good accountant – including the film industry – so there’s no reason to limit yourself.
For most people, accountancy is the last profession they think of as glamourous; but it plays a vital role behind the scenes of the silver screen. Without proper oversight of the finances, studios can get into trouble and films can go massively over budget.
Here’s what an accountancy in the film sector could look like.
What will you do?
No matter where you work, the same basic accounting principles apply – but when it comes to the movies, there are some key differences.
A lot of film studios have separate companies to handle the production side of things, which can complicate how money flows to staff and back to the studio. You can find an excellent guide to the details at the Production Accounting Forum.
There is also a lot of regional variation depending on where a film is based and what locations it uses. If a famous film is set in an otherwise unremarkable location, it can quickly boost tourism and the local economy. As a result, the government often provides financial incentives such as tax reliefs to encourage film crews to choose certain locations.
Researching these incentives and advising the studio on which offer has the best benefits is an important part of a film accountant’s job. Details on how it works in the UK can be found on the British Film Institute.
Where could you work?
Although many film professionals receive astronomical salaries – mainly the actors - the vast majority are likely to be both self-employed and on a much lower income. This means that they will need good accountants to manage their own finances.
Alternatively, you could join one of the many accountancy firms that caters specifically for the film industry, or work freelance for a number of clients – or, of course, work in-house for a company like Paramount or Disney. These studios employ hundreds of finance professionals.
What’s in it for you?
One of the biggest factors is that you could work on a huge variety of productions and film projects, giving you an exciting career that is constantly changing.
This also means that it is difficult to predict precise salaries and benefits – but well-known hotspots such as London in the UK and California in the USA are likely to provide higher salaries due to their importance as locations of the film industry.
As with any job, the more experience you have, the higher your salary could be. According to the Film Production and The Money blog, experienced production accountants can earn around $2,300 for a five-day working week, as well as expenses for the weekends.
Depending on where the filming is taking place and whether you need to be on location, you could also find yourself travelling all around the world – and, of course, being the first to see film sets.
If this sounds like the kind of career you’d like, you can start looking into accountancy courses at LSBF here.
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