6 Steps to Get Into Film Production Accounting
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Want to get into production accounting? Follow these steps to work your way into the industry.
1. Get Some Accounting Experience/Education
Before you try to work in a financing production company, it helps to have some experience in accounting or finance roles or some kind of formal education that speaks to your abilities. Production accounting is a specialized kind of accounting, so traditional bookkeeping skills won't always apply, but it helps to know your way around a ledger.
2. Work in Film Any Way You Can
Once you make it to California, your first task is to find any legit job you can at a production company - typically a PA or Production Assistant. You might have to sweep floors and fetch coffee and supplies, but you’ll start to meet people who can hire you in the future. Make it clear that you intend to move into accounting.
3. Network Constantly
“Who you know” is a big part of working in TV and film. If you freelance, it will become the primary way you find work. But it’s absolutely essential for people trying to break into the industry for the first time. Find a respected production accountant and latch on to them so they hire you as an assistant. Start in LA or NY and later transition to a small market if that is your desire. DO NOT start in a small market, build a network/career and expect to transition to the same level in LA or NY - it’s won’t work. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard of a UPM or line producer making a career in a small market (say, Miami or Wilmington, NC) and trying to come to LA or NY at the same title and pay. They either leave because they can’t get work or start all over as an assistant or PA.
4. Apply to Accounting Positions with Studios
Working for an independent production company is more about who you know, but studios regularly post job ads for specific positions. Start by applying to assistant positions in production accounting. These jobs are few and far between and are VERY competitive, but they do sometimes come up.
5. Skip the Fancy Attire
TV and film crews don’t indulge in suits, chinos, and loafers. Even as an accountant, you’ll be on your feet much of the day. Dress comfortable and look the part with casual wear: Jeans and sneakers, but don’t be a fucking slob.
6. Bust Your Ass
It’s absolutely critical that you work hard, no matter what role you play on a production crew. If anyone slacks off, it will affect the quality of the production and your chances of getting future work. Everyone on a production has plenty of fun, but they do not suffer lazy people. Be prepared to work days that are at least 12 hours long, often more. Expect to be at work early - some departments have a 4:48 am call time.