• Register
Return to: Home > Comments > Editor's letter: Lights, camera, accounting!

Editor's letter: Lights, camera, accounting!

February is the month when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards the Oscars. Accountants aren't usually movie heroes, not even as the villain of a film.

It would even be difficult to think of a handful of memorable examples where accountants had a leading role in major film productions. One of the exceptions, though, could be that of Billy Wilder's Academy award-winning comedy The Apartment.

In this classic film, Jack Lemmon plays the role of C.C. Baxter, a New York-based accountant who works for one of the top insurance companies in the country. The way he describes his job, however, doesn't possibly do justice to the modern profession:

"Our home offices have 31,259 employees, which is more than the entire population of Natchez, Mississippi," Baxter says. "I work on the 19th floor. Ordinary policy department, premium accounting division, section W, desk number 861," he goes on.

I've come to the realisation that accountants might not be strangers to the film industry when I found out that for 80 years a few people within an accountancy firm, PwC US, have known who the Oscar winners are before anyone else because the firm oversees the balloting process on behalf of the Academy.

The same goes for EY; for the past 41 years the firm has taken care of the Golden Globes' results on behalf of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

An event I attended this month, hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in London, confirmed my suspicions that accountants can also become the unsung heroes of many film productions.

The Production Guild, an organisation that trains accountants to practice within the film industry, launched a best practice guide for practitioners of the so-called production accounting business, sponsored among others by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Its name - the guild - seems reminiscent of the craftsmen's associations that developed in cities in medieval times, including London. It seems also a convenient name for what the organisation does: prepare accountants for the special craft of filming.

At the launch event was Hilary Bevan Jones, an experienced producer and the first woman to chair BAFTA, who said accountancy is an area she particularly champions, and one in which the film industry needs more support and consistency.

According to Jones, the accountant's role behind the scenes can make a big difference to a film production, especially when producers have to make a snap decision on location and continue filming in accordance to the schedule and the budget.

On those occasions, the accountants' financial planning and analytical skills can be invaluable. But importantly, there's a considerable scarcity of this sort of professional.

Among the crowd, there were a number of future production accountants, who have just finished their training with The Production Guild.They will be learning the ropes in TV dramas and feature films of all budgets sizes.

To live up to the ancient theatrical superstition, I won't wish them good luck, but rather "break a leg". The show must go on.

Carlos Martin Tornero

Top Content

    Choosing the right location can have cast-iron benefits

    As Game of Thrones, one of the biggest television shows of all time, comes to an end, Joe Pickard looks at how tax incentives offered to television and film production companies help the wider economy.

    read more

    Primary financial statements: a game changer in reporting?

    International Accounting Standards Board chair Hans Hoogervorst delivered a speech at the Seminario International sobre NIIF y NIF, organised by the Consejo Mexicano de Normas de Información Financiera in Mexico. The Accountant presents the highlights.

    read more

    FASB readies standards for the netflix generation

    The US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has updated its accounting standard for entertainment, with a specific eye on keeping up to date with how episodic content, such as television programmes, is consumed in the modern world. Jonathan Minter reports.

    read more

    Brexit: why it takes two to tango

    Former TA editor Vincent Huck, now editor of Insurance Asset Risk, looks at why Brexit might unleash geopolitical intrigue in Europe’s accounting standard-setting scene – and why IFRS 17 will be an incredible source of opportunity for firms in the coming years.

    read more
Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.