Accountants Have Dreams of Breaking into Show Business Too, Ya Know

When you were 6, did you say you wanted to be a soulless corporate zombie when you grew up? Of course you didn't! Even though you ended up becoming an accountant, it's not too late to follow your dreams. As long as your dream isn't stupid, get in touch with the GC Brain Trust and we'll happily shove you in the right direction if we can. Or tell you your dream is stupid.
Hi Adrienne,
 
Since it is that time of year when I fantasize about what other jobs I could do that would both use my accounting degree and be glamorous, I am turning to you to find out how to get a job as an accountant on movies.
 
I usually notice that there is a production accountant in the credits for movies, but on Skyfall there were so many accountants credited! Even a tax accountant!
 
I have been trolling imdb to find my future mentors – this guy has worked on James Bond & Harry Potter movies – I want to be this guy http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1392073/
 
Any idea how to break into the movie accounting business?
 
Thanks!
Hollywood CPA Wannabe
Funny you'd address this to me as it's common knowledge (at least I thought it was) that I don't watch movies. I don't need to watch them to know that life as a production accountant probably isn't nearly as exciting as you suspect it might be but hey, it's your dream not mine.
 
So the first question is, where do you live? If you say Kansas, you're probably not going to have much luck breaking into "The Biz" but if you've already loaded up your hand-me-down Ford Ranger with everything you own to make it big in Los Angeles or NYC, you're on your way.
 
Here's the thing. Believe it or not, a lot of production accountants don't actually hold an accounting degree. It's also a contract job, meaning you don't have a solid paycheck to count on for years at a time. It's also not much different from other entertainment positions completely unrelated to accounting in that success in the field is a mix of skills and pure luck. If you apprentice under the right people and do good work, you shouldn't have too difficult of a time staying busy. It's just a matter of getting that first big break.
 
Trolling for a mentor probably isn't a bad idea if you're serious about this, after you've done more research and don't come off as some starry-eyed tool looking for free advice. Use those stalker stills and hop on LinkedIn to look at what sorts of jobs are out there, what kind of experience people have and where they got their start. Isn't stalking fun?
 
Emily Rice has a bunch of current film & TV positions aggregated here (referred to as "Emily's List" by those in the business) worth checking out to get an idea of what's out there. Notice that most of them require very specific experience. But you'll start off as an Assistant Accountant (there's a DreamWorks gig in Glendale listed there that prefers specific feature or TV animation experience but does not require it) and work your way up contract by contract.
 
There is a guy out there who runs seminars (IMDB credits here) to help you learn the skills you need to become a production accountant but I'd be a little skeptical of paying some dude a ton of money to tell you how to do this stuff when you could probably just as easily learn the tricks of the trade by networking with people already in the business.
 
I wouldn't expect to be the lead number-cruncher for the next James Bond film right out of the gate, just like an aspiring actress shouldn't expect to be the next Angelina Jolie on her first film. You'll probably end up slaving away on a lot of B-movies and bad TV series at first but all it takes is one good break and next thing you know you're watching your name pass by on the credits and getting stalked by would-be Hollywood accountants yourself.

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