June 1, 2021
“The Stockade Works Workshop I attended gave me the knowledge base I needed in order to feel comfortable seeking work in the TV/Film industry. High level instructors with real industry knowledge and experience set the workshop apart. “
-Kacey Lloyd, Production Accounting Workshop Graduate
The Hudson Valley’s film production industry is not only back in business, but ever increasing, bringing positive economic impact to numerous industries by default. Beyond cast and crew there is housing, food, transportation, and the list goes on. As supporters and facilitators of this economic development, Stockade Works is always keeping an eye out for gaps in the production workforce, positions that are understaffed, or roles that are often outsourced, that could be filled locally. This is why we decided to host our first ever Production Accounting workshop. An integral part of any production, the industry is facing a shortage of accountants and payroll workforce, not just locally, but nationally as well. After discussions with professional accountants and members of IATSE Local 161 (union for accountants, script supervisors, production and travel coordinators), we decided to create a six course, online workshop to dive in head first and address this need.
The Stockade Works mission also includes a dedication to access and inclusion within the industry. Women have historically had a lack of access to many forms of work, including most of the roles within a film crew. We are proud to say that in the spirit of opening the door to those who are qualified but have for far too long been excluded, all of our Production Accounting workshop participants were female. Ranging in age from their 20’s to 60’s, many were looking to segue back into the workforce after putting their careers on hold to start or raise families. We celebrate their choice to follow their dreams and pursue meaningful careers.
Production Accountants work closely with payroll, producers, production managers, line producers, and studio representatives, but actually consist of their own film department. Skills required include the ability to scale your workload drastically up and down, and to problem solve every day. As experienced production accountant and workshop lead instructor Andy Wheeler put it, the position is “an entrepreneur’s dream job, but entrepreneurs are never promised success and you are only as good as your last job, so you have to bring your A game every day”. With this passion and commitment to excellence, 16 workshop participants learned the details of working as a Production Accountant in a 6 session online course.
Stockade Works trainings and workshops teach the ins and outs of the position in focus, detailing what will be expected of you, how to be an asset to the crew, the tools to work your position well, and post-workshop, SW training transitions into mentorship, guiding graduates from instruction to employment. So what does the position of production accountant entail? From office set up & operations, to contracts, call sheets, production reports, budget scheduling and payroll, there was a whole lot to cover. Each session built upon the previous, and students graduated from the program with “the skills needed to work as an assistant in production and payroll accounting”, qualified, and industry ready.
Furthering the potential of the film and tv industries in the Hudson Valley region is something that Stockade Works has been able to do thanks to an incredible amount of support from our local community, businesses, and beyond. We are so grateful to have had Extreme Reach as a sponsor for this workshop, and to all of our guest instructors who expanded upon the foundation that Andy Wheeler laid out. Guest speakers included Mark Valera and Flo Mitchell-Brown from Extreme Reach (Payroll and Accounting Solutions company), Laura Fearon (key payroll accountant and accounting committee chair at IATSE Local 161), Mike Brant (UPM), Alicia Guckin (Accounts Payable), Sirad Balducci (Line Producer), Michael A. Jackman (Executive Vice President at FilmNation), and Mary Stuart Masterson (Filmmaker), all of which added immensely to the immersive training experience.
As ever, our goal is to guide our grads to well-paid, meaningful employment. Within a few days of the workshop ending, we were able to book a graduate on a remote job for a television pilot and have been able to connect grads with several payroll companies seeking referrable talent, and to local productions shooting in the area. Additionally, as there is always more to learn, we hope to offer a more detailed payroll companion piece to the accounting workshop in the coming months. We are so grateful to continue doing what we love, helping make local work.