Assistant Accountants are experienced bookkeepers who assist Production Accountants and Key Assistant Accountants to control finances during feature film production. Since every production is different, Assistant Accountants' exact duties are defined in advance by the Production Accountant, or the Key Assistant Accountant, in consultation with the Production Accountant. The position is office-based, and requires a working knowledge of production accounting software, general computer literacy, and the ability to work in a team.
Assistant Accountants assist in the day-to-day running of the Accounts Office. They help the Key Assistant Accountant and Production Accountant to maintain records of invoices and creditors' payments. They keep records of all transactions, and are usually responsible for the preparation of accounts payable, invoices and purchase orders, and petty cash and payroll calculation. Assistant Accountants also process cheques, maintain filing and invoice monitoring systems, and audit petty cash envelopes – as well as carrying out other duties assigned by the Production Accountant.
On larger productions the Production Accountant may hire additional Assistant Accountants and Accounts Trainees, who are responsible for data entry, processing cheques, filing, and auditing petty cash envelopes. Different Assistants are assigned to each of these tasks, e.g., one Assistant Accountant may carry out the duties of the central cashier, while another Assistant Accountant may be responsible for all the accounts payable.
Assistant Accountants should be highly organised, and be able to work positively and constructively within the pressurised environment of film production. They should also be able to maintain effective working relationships, respond well to stress, and have good communication and situation management skills. Strong IT skills for data entry, and a good working knowledge of Microsoft Excel are required. Assistant Accountants should have a working knowledge of production accounting software, and of other general accounting software.
Specific accountancy skills required for the role include the ability to: record financial information and prepare the production's accounts; process payments; assist in administering the production's floats and petty cash; contribute to the monitoring of production costs; run a payroll in line with Inland Revenue and other relevant Government regulations; and prepare insurance claims. Assistant Accountants also have a more general responsibility to contribute to a safe and secure production environment, and they must be able to conduct an assessment of risks in the workplace.
Assistant Accountants may possess a BA in Accountancy, or vocational qualifications in accounting (NVQs/SVQs), or otherwise be able to demonstrate that they have acquired the necessary level of competence through work experience, for example as a Cashier, Bookkeeper, or in a junior financial administration capacity. Previous experience in film production is usually preferred, and knowledge of film budgeting and scheduling software is also advantageous.
Career progression in the film industry is usually based on experience; however, the rate of progression in Production Accountancy also depends on the qualifications obtained. There are a number of relevant vocational courses available including the Assistant Production Accountant Training Scheme (APATS) delivered by the Production Guild. A full, clean EU driving licence is usually required.
Individual course accreditation in certain subject areas is currently being piloted. As part of Creative Skillset's and the BFI's Film Skills Strategy, A Bigger Future2, a network of Academies have been approved as centres of excellence in education and training for film.
Where to go for more information
Creative Skillset is the Creative Industries' Sector Skills Council. The first sources of information for all jobs in the industry are the National Occupational Standards. Browse Creative Skillset's website for links to our network of training partners, information about training and access to the comprehensive Creative Skillset/BFI course database. Finally, Creative Skillset Careers is UK's specialist creative careers advice service; for detailed careers information and advice, visit http://www.creativeskillset.org/careers.