News & InfoEP StoreAcademySupportCommunityProducts by Country
Blog Home

Meet the Paymasters

The hard-working payroll professionals behind Hollywood's paychecks
September 9, 2021

Davida Lara

It’s National Payroll Week and to commemorate this important time in the payroll industry, we at Entertainment Partners are celebrating the hard-working people who make sure that Hollywood gets paid accurately and on time, every time: the paymasters!

Films and television shows would not be able to get made without people getting paid, and the people who oversee all those paychecks are the paymasters. Here at EP, our team of dedicated payroll professionals work tirelessly to service our payroll clients, and while the entertainment industry has experienced shutdowns and delays over the recent months due to COVID-19, this group of essential workers has continued to deliver people’s pay, support their livelihoods, and provided critical stability to the talent and crew who depend on them.

What does a paymaster do?

To put it simply, the paymasters are the first and last line of defense in processing production payroll. They make sure that everyone that works on a production, whether it's a film, television show, or a commercial, and whether they're an actor, a crew member, or someone working in the production office, all get paid on time and correctly.

A paymaster’s day to day job can vary. With clients in all stages of production, our paymasters have to be ready for any number of tasks including entering start cards, interpreting and processing timecards; calculating, reporting, and auditing; and inputting above and below the line payroll in accordance with client, employee, union, state and federal requirements. All of this culminates in running weekly payroll and ensuring accurate and timely delivery to the client. But it’s so much more than that.

Entertainment payroll is in a class unto itself. There are contracts, union agreements, provincial, state and federal requirements, and policies unique to each studio and production company. As well as factors like where a production is shooting, the length, the time-slot (if a television production), if the project is a drama, comedy, sitcom, or live event, and the medium of distribution (streaming, theatrical, etc.) just to name a few. All of these and more go into paying a show and it is the paymaster’s job to navigate these variables for each of their payroll clients with confidence and skill, safeguarding that no obstacle stands in the way of delivering payroll.

The paymasters at EP are experts at deciphering how to comply with all of these complex elements, and they do so with the utmost expertise and professionalism. With over 40 years of experience as the industry leading payroll provider, no one knows more about entertainment payroll than the EP paymasters. As the subject matter experts, they’ve even written the book on entertainment payroll, the most complete guide to wages, union rates, schedules, and more.

In addition to knowing the ins and outs of complicated contracts and policies, our paymasters also have exclusive access to and knowledge of best-in-class digital payroll solutions. Technologies like SmartStart, SmartTime and others found in the Production Finance Studio are changing the industry for the better, and revolutionizing the way payroll in the entertainment industry is done. Advocating for clients and helping them get the most out of the payroll team and the technology EP offers, are what makes the EP paymaster indispensable.

Paymaster is a job that gives you a sense of accomplishment. In a week there could be over 1,000 timecards, and knowing that you serviced the client, and all those people were getting paid - that was because of you.

Hollywood is a 24-hour a day business, and we have to operate on that same schedule. Being a paymaster isn’t always easy. Clients can be demanding, and sometimes it can be hard. But it is one of the most important jobs in the industry, and any paymaster can attest that their career is rewarding.

Pedro Cuervo, Vice President of Payroll Services, has spent over 20 years as part of EP payroll team and began his career as a paymaster. He shared this of his experience: “Being a paymaster was my favorite part of my career. Paymaster is a job that gives you a sense of accomplishment. In a week there could be over 1,000 timecards, and knowing that you serviced the client, and all those people were getting paid - that was because of you.”

What makes a successful paymaster?

The people who make the best paymasters are the ones who understand the value of the job. The payroll department at EP is not comprised of one type of person or one type of background, and it may be a surprise to some, but you don’t need an accounting degree or an MBA to become a paymaster. You just need two basic things: a passion for numbers and a passion for people. These two drivers are at the core of every good paymaster, and regardless of your experiences, if you possess passion and determination, the rest can be learned with time and training. And for those who choose to learn with Entertainment Partners, the training and experience you gain will make you the best in the industry.

Pedro Cuervo’s advice to anyone considering a career in production payroll is to take the leap: "If you're an analytical person and you have an affinity for numbers, you'll find this a very rewarding career. And if you’re looking for a career in entertainment, this is the perfect place to start!”

Careers can go down many different paths; all you need is a starting point. If you're a finance professional looking to break into the entertainment industry, or a new graduate coming right out of school, consider a job in entertainment payroll. When you have payroll knowledge, you understand how the entertainment industry works, and while many who become paymasters choose to stay on the payroll side of things, other doors will also open to exciting opportunities; you can go on to become a production accountant, a producer, or something else! It's completely up to you.

Over the last year the entertainment industry has bounced back from the uncertainty of Covid-19 with renewed strength, and production shows no signs of slowing down. With so much activity happening in the sector, new opportunities are opening up everyday. At Entertainment Partners we help to power Oscar-winning films, Emmy-winning shows, and Clio-winning commercials, so if you love numbers, people, and the entertainment industry, check out our careers page. You might be the next paymaster!

Topic: Payroll

Related Content

Oklahoma route 66 sign

A New Frontier in Filmmaking

5/5/2022
Oklahoma is becoming a production destination, thanks to new incentives and infrastructure programs.
More
EP Blog_The Race to Net Zero is On for Big Studios

The Race to Net Zero is On for Big Studios

4/20/2022
Film and television studios are embracing the green movement in a big way. Here’s what you can expect to...
EP Blog_Marge Dean

Opening Career Doors

3/29/2022
How WIA President, Marge Dean, is shaping the future of animation and empowering underrepresented genders
Future-of-production-virtual stages

The Future of Film and Television Production

1/4/2022
Virtual stages, remote production offices, and other advances in technology drive the evolution of...
creating-a-winter-wonderland-elf

Creating a Winter Wonderland

12/21/2021
How ‘Elf’ Production Designer, Rusty Smith, Produces the Perfect Snowy Scenes for Film and Television
EP BLOG_Payroll_Cleanup_Becky_Harshberger_sq

Everything You Need to Know About End-of-Year Production Payroll Cleanup

11/30/2021
Reconciling payroll errors and generating accurate W-2s can be a tedious process. These proactive steps...
John Hadity-Sandra Schulberg-Hybrid Financing Master Series

Film Financing Explained: Hybrid Financing

10/27/2021
Sandra Schulberg joins John Hadity for a spirited discussion on Hybrid Financing and how filmmakers can...
Master Series Thumbnail-Best practices for accurate payroll tax withholding

Best Practices for Accurate Incentive Payroll Tax Withholding

10/22/2021
Learn how payroll tax withholding impacts a production incentive or film tax credit, and how productions...
woman-man-filming-production-sq

Mission: NOT Impossible

10/20/2021
Production incentives give producers options, increase infrastructure development and jobs promoting...

Streamers and the Changing Landscape of Film Distribution

9/14/2021
Director/Producer Daniel Farrands on strategies for success in the time of VOD
Canadian flag

5 Things to Know Before Working in Canada

8/31/2021
Prepare for your next job in Canada with this checklist of payroll considerations
Topic: Canada
More
EP Blog_Jesse Wente

Supporting Indigenous Storytellers of Canada

6/21/2022
How the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO) offers advocacy and funding for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis...
Topic: Canada
More
Sian Richards and Queen Latifah-square

A Face Kit for Every Skin Tone

6/14/2022
Hollywood makeup artist Siân Richards is transforming the makeup industry for actors of every shade.
Jennifer Liscio

Spotlight: Jennifer Liscio, VP of Legal Affairs and Tax Incentives

5/31/2022
Meet EP's Canadian legal affairs and tax incentives domain expert, Jennifer Liscio, and learn how she’s...
EP Blog_SQUARE-Historical content and new media

Residuals and the Streaming Model

5/24/2022
How residuals apply to historical content on new media platforms.
EP Blog_SQUARE_Fighting Hollywood Stereotypes-TTEI

Fighting Stereotypes and Rethinking Representation

5/10/2022
How TTIE is advancing authentic storytelling in Hollywood by empowering historically excluded writers and...
contracting-in-a-covid-19-world-LC

Contracting in a COVID-19 World  

5/3/2022
The pandemic has affected how UK production companies contract crew. Here’s how to reduce the impact of...
terms-to-include-uk-contracts-LC

Terms to Include in UK Crew Contracts

5/3/2022
Common terms which studios and production companies include in their UK crew contracts.
Topic: UK
More
uk-gdpr-and-how-productions-reduce-exposure-LC

The UK GDPR and how Productions can Reduce their Exposure - Q&A with Sheridans

5/3/2022
Sheridans’ Associate Krishan Neelendra answers key UK GDPR questions from production companies and...
Topic: UK
More
KJ Lamb and Simon Donovan

Empowering the Next Wave of Production Accountants

5/2/2022
The EP Production Portal team was delighted to participate in the biannual Netflix Assistant Production...
cell phone with sticky note stating sign here

Six e-Consent Myths (and Why They’re Not True)

5/2/2022
Sheridans Associate, Sarmad Saleh, debunks some common e-consent myths.
Topic: Legal
More
Master Series Panelists-World Revenues, Foreign Sales, Senior Debt

Film Financing Explained: World Revenues, Foreign Sales, and Senior Debt

4/27/2022
Learn how working with agents, international distributors, and gap financiers can all factor into...

Producing with Purpose

4/27/2022
Creative Producer, Kimberly Goodman ('Selling Sunset', 'Project Runway') shares insights on creating...
recycling conversation

Sustainability in Production: Q&A with Nikki Saunders

4/22/2022
Nikki Saunders on sustainable filming practices, COVID-19, and why carbon offsetting isn’t a...
EP Blog_SQUARE_meet the cinematographer-dan-laustsen

Meet the Cinematographer

4/12/2022
A conversation with Dan Laustsen ('John Wick', 'Nightmare Alley').
EP Blog_SQUARE-Tips for tax day

Tips for Tax Day 2022

4/5/2022
Your ultimate tax filing checklist - the deadline this year is Monday, April 18th!

Georgia Proposes Capping and Prohibiting Sale of Film Tax Credits

3/30/2022
The changes, if signed into law, would cap the amount Georgia hands out in film and TV tax credits at $900...
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-Portland Business Journal

How Oregon’s updated film incentive law could boost the local economy

3/29/2022
A new Oregon film and media incentive law could draw more movie productions to the state.
Master Series Women in Animation-thumbnail

Women in Animation: A 3D View

3/24/2022
Marge Dean, Mandy Tankenson, and other women leaders from across animation come together to celebrate...
Bradley Cooper-nightmare alley

Meet the Assistant Director

3/16/2022
A conversation with Myron Hoffert ('Nightmare Alley')
International Film Financing panel-featured

Film Financing Explained: International Financing

3/10/2022
International production experts discuss how producers can utilize financing systems outside of the US,...
EP Blog_SQUARE-Sound Mixer-Lora Hirschberg

Meet the Sound Mixer

3/1/2022
A conversation with Oscar-winning re-recording mixer, Lora Hirschberg ('Inception', Skywalker Sound)
Digging Out of a Deficit-featured

Digging Out of a Deficit: What to Expect in the Second Quarter of 2022

2/25/2022
Federal and State Unemployment Insurance rates are rising. Learn how these changes will affect 2022 and...
International Financing-John Hadity-ft

The Beginner’s Guide to International Film Financing

2/15/2022
What to know before you begin an international financing plan
meet-the-executive-producer-just-mercy-sq

Meet the Executive Producer

2/8/2022
A conversation with Mike Drake ('Just Mercy') on the path to becoming and EP, and the role of social...
Los Angeles Times logo-sq

Why the Cherokee Nation is Offering Rebates to Film in Oklahoma

2/5/2022
Joseph Chianese speaks to the LA Times on new incentive
Grand Theft Classification Expanded for Wage Payment Violations

Grand Theft Classification Expanded for Wage Payment Violations

2/4/2022
The California Legislature has signaled law enforcement agencies to consider the criminal route more...
EP Blog_SQUARE_Island Incentives

A Ticket to Paradise

1/26/2022
Island Incentives Bring Productions Ashore
EP-Blog-Meet-the-Set-Decorator-2

Meet the Set Decorator

1/19/2022
A Conversation with Claire Kaufman ('Little Women')

PayTalk: The Recipe for a Successful Payroll 2022 (Part One)

1/13/2022
Davida Lara joins the PayTalk podcast to share strategies for leading successful teams
35-production-accounting-terms-feature

35 Production Accounting Terms You Should Know

1/11/2022
Ready to test your production accounting vocabulary knowledge? See how many of these 35 common terms you...
EP BLOG_Gucci

How Costumes, Hair, and Makeup Tell the 'House of Gucci' Story

12/28/2021
Talented production crew leaders Marco Alzari, Federica Castelli, Stefania Pellegrini, and Romina Ronzani...
New York State Makes Retirement Savings Program Mandatory Through Payroll Deduction

New York State Makes Retirement Savings Program Mandatory Through Payroll Deduction

12/21/2021
New York state employers that do not offer a qualified retirement plan will soon be required to...
2022 Budgeting-sq

Budgeting for 2022: A Production Accountant's Guide

12/15/2021
EP's Payroll Tax, Production Incentives, and Business Development experts explain how inflation,...
Master Series: Budgeting for 2022-1

Budgeting for 2022: What Productions Need to Know

12/10/2021
From unemployment taxes and worker's compensation to the price of labor and materials, production costs...
Shiran-Amir-Randy-Bricker-Meet-the-Editors

Meet the Editor

12/7/2021
‘Chucky’ editors Randy Bricker and Shiran Amir on navigating the entertainment industry and how they...
Kickstart-with-ep-academy

Kickstart Your Production Career with the EP Academy

11/23/2021
From Production Accounting basics to technology certifications, EP’s online courses offer one-of-a-kind...
film-budget-meeting-sq

Why Accurate Payroll Tax Withholding Matters to Film Budgets

11/16/2021
Wendy Black, EP’s Vice President of Incentive Operations, shares tips for ensuring your production...
Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup-Panelists-sq

Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup

11/15/2021
Payroll tax expert Becky Harshberger shares best practices to help production accounting teams prepare for...
john hadity-beginners guide to hybrid film financing

The Beginner's Guide to Hybrid Film Financing

11/3/2021
How to successfully navigate working with foundations and investors to finance your next social-impact...
American Film Market logo

AFM 2021 Online: Entertainment Partners Explores the Future of Production

11/1/2021
Content creators, production technology developers, production finance experts, and media thought leaders...
Psychology-of-terror-steve-wang-todd-masters-feature

The Psychology of Terror

10/29/2021
How our deepest personal fears inspire cinematic monster makers Todd Masters and Steve Wang
Identity Security Film Production-sq

Identity Security in Production

10/13/2021
5 Strategies to Manage Risk and Resist Cyberattacks in the Entertainment Industry
5 top payroll tax errors-Becky Harshberger

5 Top Payroll Tax Errors and How to Prevent Them

9/28/2021
Production payroll can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Payroll Tax expert Becky Harshberger...
Christine Davila, Jairo Alvarado, Sonia Gambaro

Authentic Latinx Storytelling Starts with Inclusion

9/22/2021
Christine Dávila, Jairo Alvarado, and Sonia Gambaro work to amplify the talents of underrepresented...

How to solve a compounding problem?

9/8/2021
The perennial shortage of production accountants has been made worse by the competition for resources, but...

Film Financing Explained: Soft Money Financing

9/2/2021
Vivian Hua joins our panel of financing and incentive experts to discuss funding film and television...

New Terms Under Return-To-Work Agreement

8/30/2021
RTW extension includes new two-part delineation, and the role of the vaccine
Topic: Legal
More
 John Hadity-Guide to Soft Money Financing-sq

The Beginner’s Guide to Soft Money Financing

8/25/2021
How filmmakers can capitalize on incentives, film funds, and more to finance their next project
 Adjusting the W4-Becky Harshberger-Sq

How to Adjust Your Tax Withholdings Using the New W-4

8/17/2021
Making small adjustments throughout the year can save production workers big at tax time!

Payroll & Finances

PayrollResidualsSmartStartNew SmartTimeProduction PortalEP On LocationSmartAccountingEP LiveSmartPOCASHétPayPaymaster Rate GuideEP Residency

Manage Multiple Productions

AssetHubSmartHubSmartHub Vault
Subscribe now

Be an industry insider with EP's
newsletters and alerts

LegalPrivacy NoticeSecurity
© 2022 Entertainment Partners. All rights reserved.