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Navigating the Screen Industry: A Deep Dive into Production Accounting

Production accountants Tegan Zekirovski and Ramadan Zekirovski on the AFTRS Production Accounting Intensive short course and how it advanced their careers.
May 15, 2024

As seen on AFTRS (Australian Film Television and Radio School)

The Australian screen production industry is thriving and Screen Australia has reported a record expenditure growth of $2.29 billion in the 2021/22 financial year, with domestic drama productions alone amounting to $1.51 billion.

The industry’s upward trend is mirrored in the crewing demands to manage large-scale productions. While there was an 83.1% increase in employment from 2016 to 2022, there are still many in-demand roles struggling to be filled, such as Production Accountants. Our Production Accounting Intensive short course equips individuals with skills tailored to screen productions. 

This intensive course delivers a comprehensive understanding of production phases, financial reporting obligations, and the accounting technologies that streamline these workflows. 

To understand how training can prepare students for this vital role, we spoke with production accountants Tegan Zekirovski and Ramadan Zekirovski about the course and how it advanced their careers. 

Here are some of their insights on accounting for productions in the screen industry. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CURRENT ROLES AND LIVES AS PRODUCTION ACCOUNTANTS.

Tegan:  

“I am currently employed full-time at Endemol Shine Australia, primarily focusing on reality television projects. I really enjoy working across all different types of shows and I am constantly learning and growing.”  

Ramadan:  

“Currently, I am employed as a 1st Assistant Accountant on a feature film produced by Princess Pictures and funded by the US. Over the past five years in the Production Accountant department, the workload has been exceptionally busy, providing me with valuable opportunities to collaborate with esteemed companies, develop meaningful mentorships, widen my professional network within the industry, and form lasting friendships.” 

WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT PRODUCTION ACCOUNTING AND HOW DID AFTRS’ PRODUCTION ACCOUNTING COURSE PREPARE YOU FOR CAREERS AS PRODUCTION ACCOUNTANTS?

Ramadan:  

“Production Accounting is undeniably the powerhouse and core of overseeing a production. It is often misunderstood as a dull role and perceived as less significant compared to other departments, but this couldn’t be further from reality. The truth is, without an Accounts department, a production simply cannot function – period. Without it, crews remain unpaid, businesses struggle financially, budgets lack structure, cash management becomes chaotic, cash flows cease to exist, ultimately leading the production to a halt.” 

Tegan:  

“I did have prior experience working in film production, so I was already familiar with the filmmaking process from the Production standpoint. As an aspiring producer, I recognised that financial expertise is a crucial aspect that many overlook. When I discovered this course, it was the first time it was being offered, so I was keen to enrol and gain a deeper understanding of the role and it really showed me the inner workings of a production.” 

Ramadan:  

“AFTRS was an essential resource for me, especially since I lacked accounting skills and understanding of the field. Despite my experience in Script Coverage and a creative grasp of production, I had no business acumen when it came to bringing a script to life on screen. The course provided me with an introductory understanding of Production Accounting, ranging from fundamental to advanced concepts. It empowered me with the confidence and knowledge needed to navigate the early stages of production, effectively dispelling any fears or feelings of being overwhelmed.” 

HOW DID THE COURSE COMPLEMENT YOUR EXISTING SKILLS?

Ramadan:  

“I had absolutely no prior accounting skills, so the course essentially built my knowledge from scratch. However, drawing on my creative background and experience in physical production, it significantly boosted my comprehension of the financial aspects of film and television production.” 

Tegan:  

“I know, for myself, it was familiar territory. I had been working in finance and admin accounting roles across retail property for many years, so the fundamentals were there. This course would be marrying my filmmaking knowledge with the financial operations, so this course was the perfect match to elevate my skills. It has also taught me how to deal with tight timelines and troubleshooting in high pressure situations.” 

HOW HAS THE COURSE IMPACTED YOUR CAREER TRAJECTORY?

Tegan:  

“After completing the production accounting course, I made a decisive pivot into production accounting, joining MoneyPenny (now Entertainment Partners) shortly after. This allowed me to further develop the skills acquired during the course, leading me to leave my previous retail property career behind – a complete career shift, and I haven’t looked back. The career growth has been exceptional.” 

Ramadan:  

“It completely shifted my career trajectory professionally, by giving me a comprehensive understanding of both the creative and business facets of the industry. This acquired knowledge enables me to work collaboratively with established production companies and feel confident in my skills. While there is still much more to learn, I now approach further growth with ease rather than as a burden.” 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE WITH ACCOUNTING BACKGROUNDS LOOKING TO ENTER THE SCREEN INDUSTRY?   

Ramadan:  

“The Production is a large collaborative team striving to achieve something special. Accountants, transitioning from a corporate environment, one piece of advice I would share, is to immerse themselves in the language of filmmaking. The objective is to ensure that all crew members, both above-the-line and below-the-line, feel embraced and valued.” 

Tegan:  

“Prepare for an accounting role unlike any other. While the course imparts valuable knowledge, the learning journey never really stops.  Production is such a unique project model, with many moving parts – and it moves very fast. There are so many unique projects and scenarios, so don’t expect to know everything at once. Embrace the uniqueness of each project and scenario; it’s what adds excitement and fulfilment to the experience!” 

Production accountants are a fundamental part of successful productions in a landscape where financial acumen meets creative vision. The Production Accounting Intensive course paves the way for roles as assistant production accountants, fast tracking to a career in production accounting. 

Sound like the course for you? Learn with Jill Hewitt how to apply accounting technologies and workflows to screen productions with our Production Accounting Intensive short course. 

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