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A Day in the Life of a Production Accountant

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Jannine Barnes is a screen producer most notable for her debut feature, Downriver, and her shorts (Hurt's Rescue, The Wilding, and Golden Girl). However, Jannine is also a notable Production Accountant.

Jannine tells us what it is like to be a Production Accountant in our interview:

1. Describe your typical day:

My day is essentially made up by a set of defined duties that include the management of the accounting team, liaising with other Heads of Departments, approving expenditure for payment, ensuring cost codes are correct, reviewing payroll and ensuring compliance with legislative and studio requirements are met.

2. Best bit about your job:

I love working with my team knowing that our efforts are an essential part of the creation of something be it a film or series. I love seeing the production bought to life on a screen and knowing I played a role in making it happen.

3. How did you get to where you are?

I was production managing a documentary and the production accountant on that said a lot of the work that I was prepping for him would normally be done by the accountant and given I had demonstrated some skills in that area would I be interested in moving across to the accounting department. I assisted him on a feature and continued to work as an assistant accountant on larger projects while taking on the role of production accountant on smaller projects. From there I started to do the post and wrap on larger shows and from there became a production accountant on a number of Australian feature films. I built up some great networks and strong relationships with Producers and Line Producers through this which has now culminated in me working as the accountant on larger US productions, primarily in episodic TV.

4. What skills and training do you need to do what you do?

I think it goes without saying that having mathematic ability is essential to the role. No formal accounting skills are required however. As long as you have an affinity with basic math you can learn on the job. Communication skills are vitally important as you deal with a myriad of people both within your own department, with the other teams and also with the Producers and Studios as you move up. Technical skills and capacity to work with a variety of digital programs is becoming increasingly essential.

5. Advice to someone thinking about the job:

Production accounting is a rewarding career where there is a genuine ongoing demand for skilled practitioners and provides an insight into all aspects of production. A great way to get started is via the state agencies attachment programs as many productions do take on accounting department attachments. Another avenue is to do the production accounting short course with AFTRS as this is course is lead by industry professionals who are a great source of contacts and networks. Media Mentors can assist with building contacts too!

Just like other roles in a screen production, Production Accountants are essential and crucial. If this role is not for you, worry not! There are other roles to explore. Stay tuned to our blog for more 'A Day in the Life' of other screen industry roles.


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