So you’ve finished a film or video production and the Producer has asked you to invoice them. This can be quite daunting even for the seasoned professional, but it’s really very simple. You may have been on film sets where you have been given the option to choose either payroll or invoice. So which one is best? That really depends on how you like to manage your money and in reality, sometimes you are not given the choice so it’s best to understand how both payment systems work.
Payroll or invoice – Payment via invoice
Production companies need invoices so they can keep track of production expenses and your invoice is basically a receipt for their purposes, and a reminder that they need to pay you. A good film crew invoice should have all of the following information on it:
- Your name or company name, mailing address and date
- An invoice number for your records (you decide what this is)
- The name of the business or person that you’re invoicing
- A project number, purchase order number from your client or a short description of the project so accounting knows where to put your charges
- A due date which is usually 30 days and called “net 30″
- A detailed listing of charges as a day rate or hourly rate
- Any additional costs such as tax or discounts
- A total line that should be in bold type
To make sure your payment is processed quickly, it may help to include a completed W9 form. Just fill it out, scan it and send it with all your invoices. Also, pay attention to what the Producer asks for with invoices. Sometimes, expenses will need to be invoiced separately and you may need to provide receipts. You just need to scan them and send them with the invoice, but make sure you keep the originals for future reference and tax purposes. If you email the invoice, make sure you request a confirmation of receipt. If they don’t respond immediately, call the company and check to make sure that they received your invoice. Do the same thing when sending an invoice in the mail except wait a couple of days. Checking up is very important as some companies like to say they never received the invoice and the problem is that you will have to wait another 30 days after issuing the new invoice that they never received.
Payroll or invoice – Payroll
The basic laws covering film crew payroll are similar to those that govern payroll for other businesses, and the best thing about receiving your income from a payroll is that you don’t have to worry about handling all the monotonous tasks such as tax, health premiums and any applicable union deductions. You also know exactly when you will be paid as payroll will rarely miss making payment unless there is a serious issue. You will need to provide all of your details and documents upfront, but if you’re organized and have everything in a folder to take with you to each film production, you can be sure that you’ll be paid quickly and efficiently.