Kickstart Your Production Career with the EP Academy
The content boom the entertainment industry is currently experiencing is one like we’ve never seen before, and it is not expected to subside anytime soon. It is projected that this uptick in production will continue through the next ten years, which brings with it a pressing need: skilled production workers. Someone needs to see all of those projects through, and already, the industry is wrestling with a labor shortage. Producers are stressing “it’s tough out there”, with crew shortages reaching a crisis point, at all crew levels, including the perennial struggle to find adequately trained production accountants.
The EP Academy was launched March of 2020 with the aim to solve that problem. “EP Academy is a place where people that are new to the industry, or even within the industry, can come and learn how to use the tools of the industry when it comes to finance, and also learn how to start a finance career,” says Kim Weddig-Tejada, Senior Director of Training and Support, who oversees this first-of-it’s kind educational program for industry workers.
Learning the Ropes of Production Financing
“When people hear the words ‘accounting’ they immediately get turned off,” says Joseph Chianese, SVP & Practice Leader, Production Incentives. Film schools are likely not filled with aspiring production accountants, not that programs exist anyway to shine a light on the industry’s financial professions. “If you're starting an entry-level position, a lot of people don't know that this role exists in the industry,” says Weddig-Tejada. That can be especially true in places outside industry hubs. “There are a lot of states where filming happens, yet a lot of people that live there don't know that these exciting roles exist!”
EP Academy looks to not only raise awareness of the plentiful career paths available in production accounting and finance space, but correct misconceptions that finance in the entertainment industry is boring. “How things get spent, and keeping track of that, is the crux of any production,” says Chianese. “The process of it, it's pretty exciting! Because you get exposed to the magic of the movie industry,” adds Weddig-Tejada.
Not only do you learn how to do the job, but you learn the tools that you'll be using.
EP Academy introduces novices and veterans alike to that movie magic through two course categories. “One we refer to as ‘career courses’ and the other one we refer to as ‘product courses’,” explains Weddig-Tejada. The career focuses on introducing students to the fundamentals of professions of being, for example, a production accountant. The product courses, on the other hand, focus on teaching the fundamentals of EP’s proprietary technology solutions, such as Movie Magic Budgeting and Movie Magic Scheduling. And naturally, the two categories of courses are quite compatible. They’re even often paired to great effect. “Not only do you learn how to do the job, but you learn the tools that you'll be using,” she explains.
That’s especially important as part of the finance labor shortage is driven by challenges in training new workers to do the jobs. The ins and outs of the production accounting, for example, are not in textbooks or school programs. Rather, these nuanced details reside in the heads of experienced workers – many of whom are too busy to train someone on the job. What’s more, geography can make it difficult for aspiring production accountants in, for example, Ohio, to learn from one in Los Angeles.
There, EP Academy helps too. As a fully online platform, its e-learning format is accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Additional benefits are the fact that students can learn at their own pace, and access materials for up to a year after enrolling in a course. “You can go back and revisit the information as many times as you want. It's not a one-and-done situation,” says Tyrone Robinson, Staff Product Trainer at Entertainment Partners who helped to launch the program back in 2020. “The reference materials are super helpful, especially when you're working on a production. Say you've forgotten how to take a step or something, you could go back in and re-watch the video or reference the documentation.”
The Future of EP Academy
Since it launched, over 12,000 students have registered with EP Academy, across 17 courses, with 93 percent reporting satisfaction with the experience and confidence in using the skills learned to advance their careers. And Kim, Tyrone, and the training team are just getting started. More than 20 new courses are in the works, including classes teaching payroll, production, and more.
“I'd like to see The Academy become a type of trade school for these fields that you can't go to a traditional school for,” says Weddig-Tejada. Potential partnerships with schools, job fairs, and studios could help realize the ultimate goal of EP Academy. “We wanted to make sure we were helping the studios as well as individuals to let them know. Here's a route you can take to get into the film industry, which is exciting, and to create that larger talent pool for people to go.”
Ready to learn more about the EP Academy? Check out our list of available courses, and be sure to take advantage of our fall sale! Select New SmartTime courses will be free through December 31, 2021, and a 20% discount is available on all other courses by reaching out to our training team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take the next step in your career today, and sign up for the EP Academy!