How might the world end? One theory is that the apocalypse will be brought about by incorrect filing. Filing in the transient business of production accounting is critical when it becomes necessary to find backup for expenditures for a tax credit auditor a year or two down the road.
Filing seems like a basic skill since most everything is electronic these days and information automatically alphabetizes itself…except when physical files are still used. If you are lucky, you may work on a production that is using digital document management, but for now most Film and Television Production Accounting offices are still using and filing paper. When you are just starting out and trying to break into the accounting department you will most likely start as a clerk and one of your main responsibilities will be intake and filing of that paper- purchase orders, vendor files, petty cash, P cards, check requests, W9s and payroll.
Intake is when the document first enters the accounting office and is placed either in an Inbox that catches everything or separate baskets for each type of document. Check with your bosses on how they would like the office set up for Intake and then it is 100% your responsibility to review each item as it arrives and process it. Each key accountant will want his/her office run a particular way and this may differ from show to show and accountant to accountant.
- As soon as a crew member drops off anything to accounting make sure to date stamp it. This will come in handy later if there is a discrepancy on turnaround time. Normally the turn around time for an item is 24 hours.
- Make sure all appropriate backup documentation is attached and if it is not, track it down (In future Blogs we will go over in depth what is needed for each document and the life cycle of each).
- Finally, if a document that has a log associated with it, enter it into the log and pass it off to either the 2nd assistant or 1st assistant, depending on how your office is set up.
After intake has occurred and documents have been processed and returned to you for filing, it is imperative that each document is filed correctly. One way to keep files in order is to use 3-tab files that have a left side, center and right side tab. Designating a colored tab for each type of document that is to be filed in a filing cabinet can also help.
Also a review of alphabetization and commonly misspelled words will help you make a great impression in your early Accounting jobs. Some good websites to help you with this are below.
Good luck and remember that our industry relies heavily on word of mouth and a strong work ethic will help you stand out and keep people talking about you...in a good way!