Jackie Fletcher’s top ten tips for entering the business of Production Accounting

FIlling skills gaps in our screen industry 

The role of production accountant has been consistently identified as an area with undersupply and high demand in the screen industry, with suitably experienced production accountants hard to find.

In response, Film Victoria has recently supported a production accountant placement with one of Australia’s most in demand production accountants, Jackie Fletcher, whose work spans Offspring, The Dressmaker and Sibling Rivalry among many more.

Trainee accountant Kathleen Gray is undergoing the 12 month production accountant placement on a part time basis, learning the ins and outs and working across Jackie’s full slate of projects at various stages of development and production.

Here Jackie Fletcher shares her top ten tips for anyone interested in entering the world of production accounting – from how to get your foot in the door to what you can expect from the role itself.

  • A great way to start is to look at your state funding body’s crew directories. Look for production accountants who are constantly working and get in contact. Good accountants are always working and, due to the nature of the industry, may have different assistant requirements on each of their projects.
  • Be prepared to start as an assistant. To be a great production accountant you need experience and need to be competent in all areas. Assisting and working in various areas on various projects will help your career enormously.
  • Be prepared for long hours. The majority of film and television work is not a 35 hour week.
  • You will learn on the job, but bring your background knowledge. A general understanding of basic government payroll and tax legislation, superannuation requirements, GST etc. will be beneficial.
  • Book keeping is the cornerstone of production accounting. Keeping good records and following general accounting procedures is key.
  • There will be data entry – lots of it! Get practicing on your data and numerical data entry.
  • Be flexible. The work is freelance which can be concerning in the beginning, so be prepared to be flexible and open to working with many different people to gain experience and skills. The industry is small and good assistants/accountants are hard to find. If you are good, there will be work!
  • Polish your people skills. Good humour, great communication skills and being a problem solver will definitely help. On a project, there are a lot of people working from many different backgrounds and walks of life. You need to be a people person!
  • Be quick to prioritise. A large part of the accounting department’s job is to facilitate the needs of the other departments so they can procure their items and keep working towards their deadlines. Time is always of the essence. Quick processing of petty cash, accounts and payroll is essential. Being able to evaluate and prioritise the urgencies will be a daily occurrence.
  • Enjoy what you do. Above all, we’re not saving lives. Enjoy your work. The screen industry is a wonderful place to sustain a long and rewarding career. You will meet many amazing people, make lifelong relationships and best of all, you will love going to work every day!

Production Accountants are one of the roles that Film Victoria seeks to fill on film and television productions through our Professional Attachments program. To find out more about the program and how to access opportunities, see Film Victoria’s Professional Attachments Register.