Entertainment payroll companies let you streamline your entire payroll process by doing all the hard work for you, ensuring that you follow these rules and pay everyone correctly. A few years ago, only a few payroll companies were active, but now, filmmakers have many options.
In this article, we list the most popular entertainment payroll companies, what they offer, and how to pick the right one for your production.
What is an Entertainment Payroll Company?
An entertainment payroll company is an organization that serves as the production company’s official employer on record. It handles the payment and tax paperwork of cast and crew members on film, television, and commercial productions.
A typical payroll company would not be able to accommodate the film industry’s payment guidelines or tax system. Not to mention that these rules and policies vary with every union and state. However, entertainment payroll companies understand these rules and legalizations. In short, entertainment payroll companies help you pay all your employees correctly and on time.
How to Pick the Best Payroll Company
From low budgets to studio productions, there is a payroll company out there suited for your project. You need a company that understands the tax rules, local labor laws, union contracts, and your unique production needs. So, it is important to pick a payroll company that has worked on projects similar to yours before in budget, project type, and location.
The film industry does not run on a 9-5 basis, so you also need a responsive company available when you need them. Another factor when choosing entertainment payroll companies is that the software you use is modern and has a user-friendly interface. These days, a payroll company should also be online and eliminate the need for paperwork. Last but not least, you need a payroll company within your budget.
We have listed the most popular entertainment payroll companies for US-based productions. However, if you are still unsure what payroll company to choose, you can always ask your accountant for advice or contact your state film commission.
The 10 Best Entertainment Payroll Companies
1. Cast and Crew
One of the most well-known entertainment payroll companies. For the past thirty years, Cast and Crew have provided services for broadway and high-budget film productions. They also cover all creative industries including film, television, theater, music tours, and festivals.
Based in Los Angeles they offer a range of payroll and financial services throughout the US and Canada. Highlights include dedicated customer service, industry expertise, and a customizable interface. Unlike most companies, you need to get a quote for each individual production. As such, make sure to shop around and find the best deal.
2. Media Services
Designed by production accountants, Media Services offer production payroll and in-house accountancy. Whether your project is $50K or $50 million they have payroll experts that will guide you through paying your crew on time. Previously they have worked with high-budget Netflix and HBO television series.
Also based in Los Angeles, they have a variety of services for film and TV productions across the United States. Highlights include payroll, tax incentives, budgeting, and SAG timecard advice. They also have an online payroll calculator to help you estimate the overall cost of their services.
3. Entertainment Partners
Entertainment Partners (EP), have been processing payroll since 1976. They are the industry standard payroll for Hollywood features and TV productions. Past productions include Jurrasic Park and The Sopranos, but they also have a history with indie features.
EP is an expert with payroll, union agreements, pensions, and health insurance. The same company also creates popular production management programs Movie Magic Budgeting and scheduling. A great option for budgeted productions based in the LA area.
4. ABS Payroll
ABS is especially for independent filmmakers making shorts, features, music events, or commercial projects. They cover all US-based productions and do so with an in-house accountancy team. Unlike other payroll entertainment companies, their only service is payroll. Highlights include highly rated customer service and project flexibility.
They cover all films no matter how small the budget from student projects up to features with a $10 million budget. For their services, they charge a weekly fee based on a percent of your overall budget. This could be the perfect payroll company for independent producers.
This is a new entertainment payroll company that only launched in 2018. They offer a streamlined, user-friendly interface for TV, film, commercials, and even photography studios. Wrapbook covers all US-based projects and works remotely without the need for paperwork.
Based in New York, they aim to create a modern, easy to work with payroll service. Highlights include custom time cards, comprehensive reporting, and union payments. They offer dynamic pricing based on your budget and project type. This could be a great payroll company for independent, shorts, and small-scale media productions.
6. Top Sheet
Another new payroll company, Topsheet was founded in 2017 with the goal to streamline all production management. Their unique service offers full automation for payroll, crew management, scheduling, and call sheets. Project types include shorts and features of all budget types.
Based in Los Angeles, they cover 50 states across the US. Their feature film cost is a fee flat 2% gross payroll. You can use the online payroll calculator to help you estimate your costs. This could be a great option for independent feature films with locations across the US.
If you are looking for environmentally-friendly entertainment payroll companies check out Greenslate. They are pioneers of paperless film production and offer all-in-one accountancy advice. Past clients include the award-winning feature films I, Tonya and Nomadland.
Based in Los Angeles, they cover productions throughout the United States. Clients receive full payroll and accountancy software support. Pricing begins at $10K per project with premium options available. Greenslate is best for studio and independent feature films with a budget of over $2 million.
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8. The TEAM Companies
Entertainment payroll companies sometimes have a focused area of expertise. The TEAM companies cover union and non-union performances, particularly in advisement and commercial projects. They provide guidance on labor laws, unions, and general accountancy.
As well as, providing US coverage they also have an international department for projects that film abroad. You will need to email them for a personal project quote. The TEAM services are best for commercials or projects that need to film in both the US and international locations.
Run a Better Set (RABS) offers digital payroll vouchers to background talent in order to speed up accounting and reduce paper. It had been particularly useful during COVID-19 and social distancing. Unlike the entertainment payroll companies, this one is only for background talent.
Based in Philadelphia, RABS is trusted by many major studios including HBO, Netflix, and Apple TV. Highlights include 24/7 customer support, a casting database, and secure data. RABS is for high-end productions that need to manage a lot of background talent.
10. CAPS Payroll
Founded in 2001, CAPS serves the commercial production industry, providing payroll services for commercials, music tours, and live events. In 2016, it was purchased by Cast and Crew, however, they still operate under their original name.
Based in Los Angeles, they offer payroll and accountancy services across the US. In addition, they provide electronic timecards called CAPSPay, union expertise, and accountancy software. Whilst Cast and Crew focuses on film and TV, CAPS is aimed toward event crew, music tours, and commercial productions.
In Conclusion - Entertainment Payroll Companies
Entertainment payroll companies provided accountancy services to filmmakers and production companies. They help you pay your cast and crew correctly, taking into account the labor laws, unions, tax, and state guidelines. Without a payroll service, you will struggle to keep up with all of these rules and regulations.
When choosing a payroll company for your next film production, shop around for the best quotes. Most payroll companies will take into account your budget and individual production needs. If in doubt, you can always ask your production accountant or local film commission for advice.