Production accountants perform a crucial role in the broadcast industry, working closely with producers to manage the funding of projects. They observe a lot of the filmmaking process, with junior-level cashiers visiting sets quite often. However, production accounting is not a job that often comes to mind when people are watching their favourite films and TV shows.
Lara Sargent is the Director of production accounting company Sargent Disc. She explains how you can get involved in the numbers side of the industry.
Lara's headline tips:
1) Take advantage of schemes and courses
"The Production Guild run production accounting training qualifications, like a scheme called APAT [Assistant Production Accounting Training]. It’s been very successful, a lot of accountants have come through there and done very well," says Lara. "The National Film and Television school are now working with the Production Guild to run a production accounting training scheme as well.
"The Production Guild is the organisation I am closely involved with. There’s a lot of information passed to members on best practices to follow. I think it gives a certain level of kudos within the industry that you can do your job well enough to be accepted. They also run an availability register which, when work is hard to find, can be very useful."
2) Be prepared for a high-pressure environment
Lara says production accounting can often be more challenging than traditional accounting.
"The pressure of work is greater, the speed at which things need to be turned around is a lot faster, and you’re more directly involved with the end product than you are in a large corporate environment, she says. "You need to be able to work to deadlines and work under pressure."
"Focus on doing your job well, giving accurate information and making sure people feel comfortable that what you are doing is what they need."
3) Don't be fooled into thinking working in TV is all glitz and glamour
"People who don’t work in this industry will think making a film or television project is far more glamorous than it actually is," says Lara. "There is a lot of standing around, a lot of waiting to do a little bit. There are long hours and it’s hard work. It’s not all bad - it’s fun and exciting - but unless you are a leading lady or leading man it’s not a particularly glamorous job."
If you've decided production accounting is for you, Lara has some final tips on how to make your mark at work.
"Focus on doing your job well, giving accurate information and making sure people feel comfortable that what you are doing is what they need," she says. "If you make mistakes own up to them and remember to smile."