23 Nov 2020 8:01 AM

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with the people at Future Film City on two recent occasions. Future Film City is a Scottish based organisation that aims to increase growth for Scotland’s Screen Sector.

The first time I worked with Future Film City was to deliver a webinar to their members on the UK’s Creative Tax Incentive Scheme.

What I saw during this webinar was a real desire by many to collaborate with other producers to get their project out there. This promotion of co-productions and joint ventures is one that I have always felt passionately about, so it was refreshing to see a craving to promote such ventures.

The complexities and the need to establish a trusted working relationship with people you may know very little about is an added stress. This can deter producers from going down the co-production route.  If thought through and approached sensibly I have seen how a co-production can tangibly add to a production and lower the overall production cost.

More recently I hosted a Finance Bootcamp for Future Film City for a dozen or so of their members. I spoke about the importance of keeping on top of your business finances. I explained the importance of cash-flows, regular bookkeeping and how to prepare a VAT return, amongst other things.

From my experience of working with production companies, the regular finance management of their company is often left to last minute, or outsourced. I get why this is the case, running a production company is not like running any other business. When producing a film, TV show, documentary, or any other media the number of different players involved in the one production all being managed centrally from the one production company, is very time consuming and can be overwhelming. It is easy to forget to file your VAT return when you just spent six weeks on set managing a 100 person crew. This will not stop HMRC from issuing a surcharge notice or fines for failure to file.

What I tried to emphasise during this Finance Bootcamp, is something a friend once told me and a mantra I try to live by ‘It doesn’t have to be stress’. I showed how cloud accounting solutions such as Xero and Fluidly can help save them time and are easy to use. I explained how good record management can save them money in the long term. Most importantly when approaching an investor, the need to demonstrate good finance management could go a long way to securing the finance needed to green light their new project.

I really enjoyed the experience of working with Future Film City. I often hear people say that power and money needs to be devolved from London and spread across the UK. After my experience I understand why this is extremely important, there are great stories that need to be told across the UK.

Speaking to producers during my time with Future Film City there’s an understanding that it takes more than a great script to get a project green lighted, but there’s also a determined and entrepreneurial mindset!