Chief Financial Officer at Caribbean Dockyard & Engineering Services Ltd
Tell us about yourself and how you became a film accountant?
I am a chartered accountant FCCA with an MBA from Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School. I have always loved the local film sector and by extension the creative industry and the role that it can play in the country’s diversification away from oil and gas. It’s the diversification passion that pushed me into film accounting.
What is the difference between accounting for a regular business vs a film?
All registered businesses must have an accountant to ensure that their Financials are in order. The same applies to a film project must have a registered business if it’s a feature film. So, the business accountant and film accountant can be the same person with different focus. One will focus on the day to day finances of the company while the other will focus on the budget (income and expenditure) of the film project.
What is the average cost of hiring an accountant for a film?
It depends on the size of the film project and the filmmaker/producer. If a filmmaker/producer does not understand the accounting aspect and its importance to the project, that makes it harder, longer and costly.
How should sponsorship money be processed and documented?
Sponsorship funds relating to the film should be processed as income to the film project. For record keeping these Sponsorship funds should be documented by way of a contract with or invoice to the sponsor.
One must note that when applying for the film rebate all government Sponsorship must be clearly noted on the form.
What are some key business practices that filmmakers should adopt in developing the budget?
Filmmakers must account for ALL cost and revenue that relates ONLY to the film project and nothing else. Too many times filmmakers tend to commingle their personal expenses and some often try to pass it through the project. Adopting a strict film budget allows for careful monitoring and also helps with planning future projects.
When is the right time to enlist an accountant for a production?
BEFORE THE PRODUCTION STARTS.
What is the role of the accountant on a film?
The accountant’s role is to ensure that the film is within budget and also guide the producer/filmmaker on any financial decision that they want to undertake on the film project.
Do you think the tax deduction for Sponsorship of Audio, Visual and Video Productions is underutilised and how would you motivate filmmakers to actively access this financial incentive?
All deductions are underutilized unfortunately. Training is needed to ensure that filmmakers are aware and also understand the benefits of tax deductions etc.
What are hard NO’s when financing your film?
No – commingling of expenses
No – to not having a firm distribution deal
No – to borrowing funds and not repaying the loan.
No – to not engaging an accountant
No – to not utilizing the film rebate if you qualify for it
What is the difference between an accountant and a film auditor?
An accountant will ensure that all income and expenditure are in line with the film’s budget and ensure that all statutory deductions and financial reports are done at the end of the project. The Film Auditor will do an audit or review the work done by the accountant to ensure that all is correct and in accordance with relevant standards and statutory rules.
What accounting advice would you give filmmakers?
Please ensure that your film project has an accountant and a budget. Utilize the rebate and incentives provided by the government.