Managing the finances for a film or TV production can be a high-octane, action movie all of its own.
There’s a constant, creative tension between delivering the best production possible and staying within budget to ensure the project gets completed. Covid-19 has added a further layer of complication.
So, how can you make your next production less of a drama?
Our new guide can help.
'How To Better Manage Your Production Budget' is free to download and full of ideas to help you control your film or TV project at every stage, from Development through to Post-production.
Let’s look at just two of them.
Consider a cash-free 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 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.”
Empower department heads
Think about how empowering budget holders can streamline your production.
With Centtrip, every buyer can have a prepaid card and app that gives them instant, real-time visibility on their spend. Payment limits and reporting hierarchies can be tailored to your specific needs so that decisions can be taken quickly as the need – or opportunity – arises.
That means you can cascade the entire costume budget to the wardrobe department if you wish. You can also transfer money instantly to and from individual cards in different currencies to meet the needs of the production.
For that to work, you should look for an app that also gives you the ability to quickly photograph and tag 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.