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How a high limit, prepaid, multi-currency card can support your film production

How Centtrip’s high limit, prepaid, multi-currency card can support your next film or television production.

When your film or TV production gets underway, make sure you stay in control with the payment systems and support you need.

In a previous Film and TV post, we’ve looked at foreign exchange risks. We also shared our tips on what to look for in an effective payment and control system.

But what happens when production gets underway, and people start spending money, widely?

You won’t be surprised to hear that we recommend using Centtrip’s high-limit, prepaid, multi-currency Mastercard. But why would we do that?

Simply because it does what it says:

  • High limit – we can offer the highest transaction limits in the industry – up to £150,000 in a single transaction. That means your people are empowered to deal with opportunities or challenges, wherever and whenever they arise, 24/7, around the world.

  • Prepaid – You can control spending, top up cards instantly, 24/7, and retain real-time visibility. You can give the Head of Costume his full budget on his card, move some to his team members’ cards. Or instantly move funds off a lost card.

  • Multi-currency – No more unexpected foreign transaction fees or outrageous exchange rates. Each card can hold up to £350,000 in up to 15 different currencies (with daily ATM withdrawals of up to £4,000).

  • Mastercard – Accepted in more than 210 countries and territories, in store or online.

Let’s look at how using prepaid cards can help your next film or television production.

Use prepaid multi-currency cards for a cashless production

As production accountant Gareth Jones says, “Cash is the bane of any accountant’s life, just in terms of the risk involved and the ease with which mistakes are made.”

But, historically, the industry has used large amounts of cash, to pay per diems to cast and crew and for sizeable sums of ad hoc purchasing.

For a typical television production, Gareth says, “total cash purchases can easily reach £250,000. The two biggest spenders would be the art and costume departments.”

Penny Robinson, another production accountant agrees. “Having cash all over the place is just a nightmare,” she says. “We haven’t used cash in our accounts department for years."

The everyday world is increasingly cash-free, so consider saving the time, cost and hassle of handling cash for your production project, too.

The core benefit is accountability. If you switch everything to card, you have a record of everything that gets spent.

However, it has to be the right card solution. A credit card with no ability to track spending in real time can be even worse than cash.

“Before we switched to Centtrip,” Penny says, “we often used credit cards, but it was such a mess. People just spend, spend, spend and often they don’t think about getting receipts.”

When considering a cashless production, consider using a prepaid card. This  allows you to load the card or cards (for say the costume department) with the whole or part of the budget and let the department manage their own spending.

For that to work, you should also look for an app that gives you and cardholders real-time, anytime reporting and user-defined hierarchies – so people can see what they’re spending – and the ability to quickly photograph receipts for coding and upload. That way, expenditure doesn’t get missed and department heads are always on top of their budgets.

Make sure you can have as many cards as you require for each production project. Some providers will limit the number of cards you can have, others (like Centtrip) will provide the number of cards you need to empower and control your whole production.

Also, look for solutions that provide integration with leading finance packages. Easily importing transaction records rather than manually rekeying them saves time and eliminates the chance of human error.

Centtrip’s seamless API integration means you can easily and dynamically extract all your transaction data from Centtrip into your chosen accounting or ERP system. That means all your foreign exchange, payments, card expenses and cardholder receipts, in every currency.

"You can use Centtrip cards to control the budget. For example, if the costume person's got €4,000 to spend, you just put the whole budget on their card and once it's gone, it's gone! They can then control their spending and see where they're spending, because it's on the real-time report.”

Penny Robinson, Production Accountant (Patrick Melrose, The Winter Lake, The Man in the Hat)

In a cashless world, pay per diems by prepaid card

Paying per diems is another area that has long been a cash-heavy task. But, when everyday life is increasingly contactless, why would we pay daily allowances in cash? Tales of suitcases full of cash are still surprisingly common, but consider the risk, the hassle and the time involved in counting out and distributing cash … when the crew would largely prefer something else.

“For per diems, it would take half a day per week just for the cashier to go to set, find every member of cast and crew, and hand them a little brown envelope of cash,” Gareth Jones says. That can be onerous enough around a sound stage, but for crews on location internationally, the challenges grow:

“The physical side gets difficult,” he says. “Finding and getting to a local bank, withdrawing as much as £20,000 per week in local currency, storing it securely, then counting and distributing it.” 

Gareth, like many accountants, switched to using prepaid cards for per diems. Every member of crew and cast was issued a Centtrip, prepaid, multi-currency Mastercard and per diem allowances were loaded to the cards every week.

“Before, it took half a day per week, now I just create a batch upload file, click the button and cast and crew have instant access to their balances.”

Demand 24/7 support and service

It’s not always just about ease of use. Sometimes things go wrong.

One of the best ways to improve your own production is to ensure the partners you rely on provide the expert service you need, when you need it.

Film production is no nine-to-five endeavour, so the support you need is 24/7. However, a call-centre half a world away doesn’t really help either.

For every service on which you rely, look for round-the-clock support from people who understand the unique challenges of your sector, whether you’re shooting in Ipswich or Iceland.

“Centtrip has expertise in the entertainment industry where things move at a different pace. For example, if an artist’s card doesn’t work because they have spent the available balance, we need to move quickly to resolve the issue, because keeping those artists in best possible frame of mind gets the best out of performance time.”

Gareth Jones, Financial Controller and Production Accountant (Little Birds, The Essex Serpent, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie)

Support a safe, post-Covid working environment

How can the controls and payment processes you choose contribute to a healthy working environment? Here are a few considerations:

  1. Go cashless. No-one wants cash anymore. Switching to card payments reduces the risk of transmission from notes and coins.

  2. Encourage contactless payments. Using cards for petty cash expenses enables the use of contactless, tap-and-go payments.

  3. Real-time, anytime reporting on PC or mobile phone supports paperless and remote working for accounts and production office staff.

  4. Reduce unnecessary interactions. Using prepaid cards for per diems means fewer non-essential interactions. It removes the need for a cashier on set once a week, and removes the cash queue, too.

  5. Go paperless. Using a smartphone app to capture images of receipts reduces paper handling.

Other features to improve day-to-day production accounting

When researching and selecting payment and card systems, look for the following time-saving features:

  • Batch payments and uploads – make it simple to send international and domestic payments for suppliers or to upload money onto cards.

  • Transaction import/export – avoid the need to manually re-key transactions between systems. Look for systems that either integrate directly with your chosen accounting package or provide simple import/export options.

  • Tailored, real-time reporting – ensure you can create the reports you need: by period, by location, by department, whatever meets your unique needs.

  • Think beyond card payments – not everything is paid by card and talent doesn’t always recognise borders. Your production house might be in Pinewood, while your composer is in Milan. It’s easy to miss the impact of foreign exchange and payment fees when you’re paying international talent, but banks often levy hefty charges and can add a margin of between 2% and 5% over live-market exchange rates. A specialist in international payments, like Centtrip, can often offer more competitive rates and ensure your international payments go by the fastest and most cost-efficient route.

“Centtrip has changed the game in the music industry and is doing the same in film. The financial savings and expert insight helped us achieve significant savings that we put back into our production budgets.”

Bill Curbishley, Trinifold Management (The Who, Access All Areas, Quadrophenia: Live in London) 

How Centtrip can help

Centtrip has nearly ten years’ experience connecting the world’s most glamorous money for the most dynamic customers and their users. We make life simpler, safer and more rewarding for organisations – like film studios, production houses, touring arts companies and bands – that manage multiple, internationally-mobile teams and assets.

With Centtrip, you can deposit and manage 15 different currencies, in unlimited value, in a single account. You can manage foreign exchange in 140 currencies at live-market rates and you can make international payments across the banking network using SWIFT, SEPA, Faster Payments and other local networks. Centtrip customers can also make instant, fee-free, transfers and payments across the Centtrip network.

The Centtrip multi-currency, prepaid Mastercard is one of the most flexible cards on the market. Designed specifically for the needs of highly mobile organisations, the card offers the highest balance and transaction limits in the industry allowing you to hold up to £350,000 in 15 different currencies on a single card, spend up to £150,000 in a single transaction and withdraw up to £4,000 from ATMs. And, you can have as many cards as your production requires. It’s not unusual for us to issue several hundred cards for a single, relatively short-term project.

And, because we’re designed for the needs of international business, you can control multiple, separate cost centres from a single, multi-platform interface – desktop or mobile – wherever you are.

You can read more about how Centtrip supports the film and TV sector here.

Want to know more?

For more information on how Centtrip can support you and your organisation, check out our online Resources or get in touch today.

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