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Why Choose Production Accounting? A Q&A with NFTS Production Accounting Diploma Course Leader, Lucy Drake

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Why Choose Production Accounting? A Q&A with NFTS Production Accounting Diploma Course Leader, Lucy Drake

“The industry is so busy at the moment, that the dilemma currently is which jobs to accept!”

Tell us about your background and how you got into Production Accounting? “When I left school I took a degree in Performing Arts, specialising in Art Administration, I knew that I wanted to the work in the arts in some way but was not sure what opportunities there were. During this time, I felt that I had an aptitude for numbers and enjoyed the financial management of arts organisations, so I decided to train to be a Chartered Accountant.  After qualifying I got a job with BBC Drama and discovered the role of a Production Accountant, which seemed the perfect job to combine my passion for the arts with my finance skills.”

What kind of applicant are you looking for? “I am looking for someone with a thirst for knowledge and a passion for the film and TV industry.  Applicants will need good basic numeracy and Excel skills and enjoy problem solving, being organised and have good attention to detail.”

Why apply? “Throughout the year, this Diploma will take you through all the key areas covered by production accounting teams.  You will also learn about the production process and the roles of all the people working behind the camera from professionals currently working in the industry.”

(Still from Spooks: The Greater Good)

What makes this course stand out? “The part time nature of this course allows you to consolidate all your learning, fully grasping each area with classroom training and homework before moving on to the next elements.  There are also opportunities for work experience in production accounting offices and chances to network with current professionals.”

Aren’t most Production Accounting jobs freelance rather than full time – isn’t that a risk? “The roles are generally all full time work, just not permanent jobs.  There are permanent roles in some of the larger TV production companies and broadcasters if you don’t enjoy the freelance working.  However, the industry is so busy at the moment, that the dilemma currently is which jobs to accept!”

(Still from The 9th Life of Louis Drax)

What’s the most exciting film/ television production you have worked on? “I have enjoyed all the productions I have worked on, but all for very different reasons.  I enjoyed the camaraderie and challenges of working on EastEnders, especially when filming abroad. The Mirimax film The 9th Life of Louis Drax was my first treaty co-production, so I learned a great deal, especially appreciating the different ways of working across the different countries, and working with an American studio.  Watching the screening of Spooks: The Greater Good was the first time I saw my credit in a cinema, which felt exciting after years of my credits being squashed on the TV screen.  I have spent the last year working on I Am Not A Witch, an independent low budget film, which filmed in Zambia and with post production in France and the UK.  This has been a challenging production with some sleepless night, but now I am able to watch and enjoy the success it is having, as it has 13 nominations at the British Independent Film Awards.”

(Still from I Am Not A Witch)

What’s the difference between working in film and TV as a Production Accountant? “The basic responsibilities are the same, but the size and complexities of the production differ. Working on independent films has a similar structure to TV shows, although the funding can be more varied and volatile.  There is a more of a difference working on the large budget studio films, as the size of the production means that the workload is significantly increased.  An independent film could have just two people in the accounts department, maybe for only a few months, but the Hollywood blockbuster films could have a team of 30 people working for over a year.  However, the increase of commissions from Netflix and Amazon has meant that some of the TV series are as big as the large films too but with added complications of episodic reporting of costs. It is relatively easy for assistant production accountants to move between all the different genres, but Production Accountants and Financial Controllers tend to specialise more in certain areas.”

If this sounds like you, apply now at www.nfts.co.uk/productionaccounting and start in January 2018.