“Dunkirk is definitely one of those films that now I have seen it makes all the stress and tiredness worthwhile.”
We met with Natalie Moore, who runs the NFTS Production Accounting Diploma and was Production Accountant on Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated and critically acclaimed second world war action movie, Dunkirk, to find out what it was like to work on his ‘utterly immersive account of the Allied retreat’.
The part-time 12-month diploma is delivered in partnership with the Production Guild, the UK’s most prestigious membership organisation for film and TV production management professionals and is taught in central London at Film Finances Offices in Soho. Applications are open for the Diploma until the 7th September and the course starts in January – more information at www.nfts.co.uk/productionaccounting
(Natalie Moore, NFTS Production Accounting course leader)
What was it like working on Dunkirk? Dunkirk was a tough show but exciting to be a part of. The show had some very talented people working on it so it was great to be a part of such a gifted team.
What were the highlights and the challenges? The main challenge of the show as the accountant was the fact that we had cast and crew from about 10 different countries working for substantial periods in four different locations. I had to find out the local requirements of each country and how those requirements affected the payments we were making to our cast and crew. Each country had its own accounting team who all had their own ways of working and in two cases spoke their own language. Getting everyone to work as one global team was definitely a learning curve for me. We also had three different tax incentives to track and claim which came with its own set of challenges.
Could you give some insight on the day-to-day activities? On any film the main activity in the accounting department is to get the costs processed - purchase order commitments for four different companies, invoice payments for the same, payrolls for all the cast and crew and all the local petty cash in each country. All of this is done in a weekly turnaround and is different every single week. The Producers need to make instant decisions on set and they need the accounting team to be able to give them correct figures at any point. The sheer size and scale of this project meant that this was a huge task. Shooting a movie is such a quick and intense experience so there is no scope for financial error - Dunkirk was no exception.
Did you get to travel? I was lucky enough to get to work in all four locations - France, The Netherlands, The UK and LA.
(Oscar winning Neil Corbould with current Production Accounting students)
How did Dunkirk compare to previous jobs? Dunkirk, like every film I work on, taught me a great deal. I'd never worked on a film with such a large marine or aerial department so it was interesting learning about the cost items associated with their requirements. I'd also never worked with a Director who created such a realistic environment so it was quite humbling to liaise with the boat owners who had actually sailed over to Dunkirk during the war. Dunkirk is definitely one of those films that now I have seen it makes all the stress and tiredness worthwhile.
Have you seen the film and what did you think?! Myself and my team went to the Cast & Crew screening of Dunkirk just before it came out and I absolutely loved it! Definitely one of the films that I am proud to have been a part of.
If you would like to be taught by Natalie, apply now at www.nfts.co.uk/productionaccounting