Accounting Software

It is very common for drama productions to use Movie Magic Scheduling and Movie Magic Budgeting software packages.  It is useful for Production Accountants to be familiar with Movie Magic budgeting as it helps when reviewing and checking the budget, making necessary amendments, producing ‘what if’ scenarios, and making comparisons between different versions of the Budget. The Production accountant must also be able to interpret the schedule although it is not usually necessary for him/her to be able to use the Movie Magic Scheduling package.

There are other budgeting packages eg OctopusPMI, or the budget may be produced on a spreadsheet.

There are a number of different accounting packages available for use. Some are specialist packages designed for film and TV production, whereas others are more general packages.

The specialist film/TV accounting packages incorporate cost reporting functionality.  Some current popular systems in the UK include: Eclipse, Moneypenny, PMI Octopus, PSL and Smart Accounting.  Non specialist packages commonly used include Sage and Xero.

Factors to consider when choosing and setting up an accounting package:

The accounting package normally used by the production company; it may be necessary or beneficial to operate the same system.

  • The accounting package normally used by the production company; it may be necessary or beneficial to operate the same system.
  • Will the accounts need be consolidated with any other accounts?
  • Is episodic costing required?
  • Is it necessary to flag ‘used and consumed’ for tax relief?
  • Is it necessary to keep a regional analysis?
  • Will it be necessary to record costs in different currencies?

It is also important to consider data protection and data security when setting up systems. The lists below detail some key factors for consideration.

Other systems 

Other systems / software to consider setting up include:

  • Purchase Orders
  • Electronic filing
  • On boarding
  • Time sheets
  • Payroll Bureau
  • P cards (Pre paid debit cards)
  • Emails
  • Making Tax Digital access for Accounts

Data Protection

The data protection act 1998 dictates the responsibility employers have when processing and storing personal data on individuals.  This is particularly relevant to production accounts offices due to all the contract and payroll information held.

Personal data includes:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • sex
  • education and qualifications
  • work experience
  • National Insurance number
  • tax code
  • details of any known disability
  • emergency contact details

Everyone responsible for using personal data has to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles’. They must make sure the information is:

  • used fairly and lawfully
  • used for limited, specifically stated purposes
  • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • accurate
  • kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary
  • handled according to people’s data protection rights
  • kept safe and secure
  • not transferred outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection

How to secure your computer

  • Securely back up data (every day whilst in Production!)
  • Full hard disk encryption
  • Portable data encryption – for USBs, CD/DVDs
  • Install anti-malware software that includes email and spam protection
  • Remember to log out – of devices, emails & sites
  • It may be appropriate to install VPN (Virtual Private network) software which gives you online privacy and anonimity.
  • Keep all devices and software up to date
  • Keep all personal information off line, away from hackers
  • Limit the number of mailing lists signed up for
  • Watch out for bogus links, attachments and offers
  • Encrypt internet e-mail
  • Be aware of how secure the wifi access is
  • Regularly clean up hard drive
  • Install a firewall
  • Install software to track the device
  • Always password protect emailed documents
  • Consider the security of sending personal data, eg payroll information
  • Consider using a secure file transfer system (e.g ProjectSend) to transfer confidential information

How to secure your Smart phone

  • Set a password
  • Install Security Software
  • Enable the capability to remotely wipe your device if it is lost
  • Download trusted apps only