Film & TV – Your First Finance Hire
30th January 2020
Film & TV is a ‘sexy’ industry to work in, right? Blockbuster movies, unmissable series, drama, comedy, action… It has it all.
From the outside looking in, the industry is all about hiring the best actors and unearthing great storylines. While that is partially true, there is another (very important) force at play… finance.
Without it, the show can’t go on. Without someone to plan, forecast and balance the books you could end up in all sorts of trouble.
The major players in TV & Film know this and know it well (that’s why Netflix recently hired a former Disney CFO!) but for the up-and-comers a finance hire may take a back seat.
If thinking about finance hires does this to you, call me!
We get it! Where do you even start? There are so many factors to consider: do you need a bookkeeper or a financial controller? Part-time or permanent? Project-based? If you’ve never been through this process before, it can seem daunting.
If you need help with any of this, please contact me at any time. I’m always happy to talk you through your options!
For now, let’s take a brief look at some of the different finance team roles and responsibilities to try and eke out the right one for you.
Bookkeeping / Transactional Team
The initial rung on the ladder. If you don’t have the resources to go all-out and hire an FD or CFO, this is a great place to start.
Bookkeepers will handle invoices, transactions, queries and payroll (to name just a few!). This is the lowest-cost option for a first hire, but with that comes some limitations. If you’re looking for someone to help with planning and executing financial strategies, read on.
Finance Manager / Controller
The next step up would be a finance manager or controller. These two are similar, with finance managers more involved in the management of a company's finances while controllers focus on the accounting function and reporting.
A finance manager can be involved in many kinds of activities, all of which help the organization meet its financial needs. They can be involved in overseeing a company's short-term or long-term investments, for example (important in such a fast-paced industry). A finance manager could negotiate financial terms of a new contract or be involved in planning the issuance of securities or mergers and acquisitions.
I’ve positioned this role above FC / FM, because a production accountant is more specialised for this industry.
Production Accountants calculate the cost of a production, communicate with companies or individuals providing funding, control the cash flow and overall spending on a production. As such, this is generally a project-based role, with a production accountant sometimes travelling with the team on location and then moving on once it’s wrapped.
In many ways they are the James Bond of Film & TV finance: they parachute in when needed, steady the ship and then disappear into the night…
Show me your spending reports and nobody gets hurt…
CFO / FD
The top tier of your finance team, a good Chief Financial Officer or Financial Director is worth their weight in gold – especially in an industry with tight deadlines and lots of moving parts.
This hire could also be the key to bolstering your income, with CFOs and FDs increasingly taking an active role in fundraising. Plus, having forecasts and accurate P&L is a real boon when you’re searching for investment in your next blockbuster.
CFOs and FDs will bring with them a wealth of experience that can prove invaluable, especially for a company on the rise.
If you currently have nobody managing your finances, any of the above roles will be a great help. In an industry with so many variables and costs and with finance so important to keeping things on track, my advice would be to hire someone that can help with planning. Their work will help you to save their salary and then some by staying on top of profit and loss, cash flow, fund raising and investment… the list goes on!
Finding the right person to fit the bill isn’t easy. Choosing the right individual to suit your company culture, handle the job at hand and drive your business forward, requires its own expertise. That’s where I come in! Take the stress out of your first finance hire and let me and the Harmonic team take care of you.
If you’d like to discuss your needs or chat about some potential ideas, please get in touch any time. You can drop me a message here on LinkedIn or give me a call, or email. If you’re ready to push your organisation to the next level, I’m ready to help.