Taxes for Entertainment Creatives: Start the New Year Right and Get Ahead of Your Tax Season

Hosted by John Thomas and Kristy Clabaugh

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John Thomas and Kristy Clabaugh

Webinar hosted by: John Thomas and Kristy Clabaugh

CPAs at Element CPAs

Kristy Clabaugh and John Thomas are Certified Public Accountants with over 20 years of experience providing accounting, tax, and advisory services to businesses and high net worth individuals. They are founding Partners of the Atlanta-based firm, Element CPA, PC, which has a unique niche focusing in the creative industry on both above and below the line for film, television, animation, and music sectors. Kristy serves on the executive board of directors as Treasurer for both the Georgia Production Partnership and Women in Film & Television Atlanta. John and Kristy are members of the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

The new year is an exciting time as you dream of all the new projects you'll be working on! But this year isn't really over until April 15th, when you've entirely completed the previous year's taxes. Get ahead of the headaches and make a strategy now with the help of entertainment CPAs.

Personal taxes, corporate taxes, and loan out company returns. All of these tax returns are necessary for creatives, and they all tie together. Not to mention that what you can right off changes every year. You never want to pay more than you should, but do you know everything you can deduct?

Whether you're looking back at the last year or looking at projects coming up, this webinar will get you organized and ready to tackle your taxes!

Kristy Clabaugh and John Thomas are Certified Public Accountants and founders of Element CPA, an entertainment and creative-focused accounting firm. They know the ins and outs of production accounting, having provided over 20 years of experience in accounting, tax, and advisory services on both above and below-the-line areas of film, television, animation, and music sectors. Kristy also serves on the executive board of directors as Treasurer for both the Georgia Production Partnership and Women in Film & Television Atlanta. The duo will answer your questions so that you can apply this priceless knowledge to your projects and companies.

Don't have the chance to watch this exclusive webinar live? Or do you want to be able to return to this fantastic information? You'll have access to this webinar for a whole year and can return to it again and again.

Don't waste your valuable time making redundant spreadsheets, digging through unnecessary receipts, and stressing yourself out. Learn from some of the best in this webinar and walk away clear on what you need to do, what you don't, and ready to make tax time a breeze!

 

"This is the holy grail! John and Kristy are so knowledgeable about so many things with the business side of the film!" They made this part of the process actually fun!"

- Wade N.

 

"All I can say is wow. I have seen the light and now feel beyond comfortable putting together my next film."

- Jennifer L.

What You'll Learn

  • The 3 kinds of returns and what you will need for each
    • Personal Tax return
    • Loan Out Company Return
    • Corporate Tax Return
    • How they all “tie” together
  • Breaking down what you “really” need
    • What is deductible
    • What should you be tracking
    • The best ways to track expenses
    • Important dates to remember
  • Tips to save time and money
    • Choose the right tax preparer and accountant for YOU
    • Things you can do yourself and what should be done by a professional
    • Common mistakes or mishaps and how to avoid these
    • Ways to get and keep your finances organized
  • Q&A

About Your Instructor

Kristy Clabaugh and John Thomas are Certified Public Accountants with over 20 years of experience providing accounting, tax, and advisory services to businesses and high net worth individuals. They are founding Partners of the Atlanta-based firm, Element CPA, PC, which has a unique niche focusing in the creative industry on both above and below the line for film, television, animation, and music sectors.

Kristy serves on the executive board of directors as Treasurer for both the Georgia Production Partnership and Women in Film & Television Atlanta. John and Kristy are members of the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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Testimonials

"This is the holy grail! John and Kristy are so knowledgeable about so many things with the business side of the film!" They made this part of the process actually fun!"

- Wade N.

 

"All I can say is wow. I have seen the light and now feel beyond comfortable putting together my next film."

- Jennifer L.

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Introduction to Film and TV Accounting: Setting Up Your Entity, Understanding Tax Implications, Investor Distributions and More

As creators we can get swept away in the excitement of having our film or television project greenlit. Imagining "lights, camera, action", the collaborative process and the excitement of having a successful and profitable project is the reason we pursue a life in film and TV. But, before you step on set and get rolling, you'll need remember that this is, in fact, a business. It's a business with a great deal of money at stake for investors who want to make sure their money is protected. In order to do this, you'll need to understand how to set up your project as an entity and the tax implications involved for you and your investors. It may be the least sexy, but certainly the most crucial component to putting together a film - the accounting process. Someone (or maybe even yourself) has taken a chance on investing in your dream, and that means that investment should be treated with care. Taking the important step of understanding what entity type you should set up and the tax implications that go along with it, will help you avoid major headaches down the road and give you the peace of mind that will allow you to concentrate on making your project the best it can be. Having your project setup correctly from the get go will also help you avoid costly mistakes with investor distributions. And, let's face it, you hope to show that you know the ins and outs and that you can deliver a successful project so your investors will stay with you and invest in your next film or TV project. John Thomas and Kristy Clabaugh are Atlanta based CPAs that specialize in providing services to the film & entertainment industries both abroad and in the US. Kristy also serves on the executive board of directors as Treasurer for both the Georgia Production Partnership and Women in Film & Television Atlanta. Together they have worked on hundreds of film and television projects assisting clients in all stages of project implementation from investor relations, entity structuring, waterfall projections, budgeting, pre-production and development, production accounting to post-production. John and Kristy will teach you the differences between an LLC, Corporation, S-Corporation and Foreign Entity and the common strategies that go along with each. You'll understand the tax effects of your selection and how dividends vs. distributions will work. You'll also learn how to work with tax incentives and financing. And, most importantly, you'll understand how to talk with your investors and what you'll need with K1s, Section 181, money flow, loan-outs and more. They will teach you everything you need to know to set up your entity correctly, protect yourself legally, give your investors the comfort and security that they're money is protected, and that you're in the best position to see a return.     "This is the holy grail! John and Kristy are so knowledgeable about so many things with the business side of the film!" They made this part of the process actually fun!" - Wade N.   "All I can say is wow. I have seen the light and now feel beyond comfortable putting together my next film." - Jennifer L.

Advanced Level Accounting for Film & Television

Throughout every phase of making a film or series, it’s vital to have a vision, but it’s paramount to make sure your books are in order make sure that you are running your project as a business and making money back for your investors. Losing either of these aspects will spell disaster for your project. Vision likely comes more easily to creatives—it’s why you set out on this venture in the first place—but if it’s not accompanied by strong financial records and a wherewithal of what to do, both to spend money and to earn it, you’re going to find yourself in a heap of trouble that no amount of vision can get you out of. In the previous webinar in this series, Introduction to Film & Television Accounting, we discussed the things you need to know in order to responsibly get your project off the ground, including navigating tax incentives, finding and approaching investors, and working with loan-out companies. However your dealings with accounting don’t end here; they continue well through production. You might have wrapped your film, but there are still some serious i’s to dot and t’s to cross. How do you report your earnings and your spending? How do you handle payroll in accordance with the different guilds and unions? How do you prepare your taxes and how do you make sure you actually get those credits and incentives you’re owed? There’s no time to sit on your laurels. It’s more vital now than ever to ensure that your accounting is, well, accounted for. John Thomas and Kristy Clabaugh are Atlanta-based CPAs that specialize in providing services to the film & entertainment industries both abroad and in the US. Kristy also serves on the executive board of directors as Treasurer for both the Georgia Production Partnership and Women in Film & Television Atlanta. Together they have worked on hundreds of film and television projects assisting clients in all stages of project implementation from investor relations, entity structuring, waterfall projections, budgeting, pre-production and development, production accounting to post-production. John and Kristy will continue on from their first accounting webinar to share with you more advanced but equally vital aspects of handling the accounting on your film project. They’ll go over financial reporting requirements for any project, specifically your balance sheet and your income statement and teach you how to reflect your project as an asset, how to report investor obligations, both as loan payable and equity interest, and when and where the revenue hits. Next they’ll delve into the importance of quality production accounting and go over the guild and union rules you need to know while doing payroll. John and Kristy will walk you through cost reports and how they compare with the budget. Then they’ll teach you the nuts and bolts of tax preparation, which includes both federal filings like elections and K1s, and state filings, like resident/non-resident filings tax incentive and credit declarations.   Praise for John and Kristy’s Webinar Both presenters really knew their stuff and presented it with clarity. -Clint A.   This advanced class was so helpful. John and Kristy got into the nuts and bolts of accounting in a serious way and gave me a lot more confidence in being able to handle accounting on my own project” -Cassie G.   Really thorough but also easy to understand -Gerry T.   John and Kristy are the best! -Rodolfo B.

A Modern Approach: Creative Ways to Base Your Film or TV Project Off of IP

Intellectual property (IP) has become a critical aspect in creating new content and selling projects within the film and television landscape. At this point it’s almost feels like a prerequisite for a project to be tied to some sort of pre-existing property before it’s picked up by a studio or network. Whether it’s a book, graphic novel, podcast, article, life rights, or anything else, IP can give executives the confidence they need to move forward with that next show or movie. After all, with IP, they have a working blueprint of how the finished product could look, they have a built-in audience with the fans of the original property, and they have something substantial to show talent, investors, and the higher-ups looking at the bottom line. This inclination towards IP can make it harder for you as a writer or filmmaker to sell a fully original project, but at the same time it can give you opportunities to better build, package, and sell your next project. If you can find and acquire exciting new IP, you’re going to have a distinct upper-hand in getting people to notice your project and are well on your way to it actually getting made. There’s no denying the value of IP in today’s industry, but navigating this world can take some finesse. If you’re not in the business of constantly tracking and consuming new books and media, it might be hard to come across that property that is perfectly suited to you. And even if you find that standout book or article, how do you get the rights to it in the first place? How can you get that original author to trust you? For the writers and filmmakers not interested in adapting existing material, creating your own IP could be an effective solution, but what does that even mean? Those who are understanding and embracing this new concept of creating your own IP have a major competitive advantage in selling their scripts right now. It’s high time you learn what you need to know about IP in today’s climate. Alex Creasia is a literary manager and producer at Pathfinder Media where he represents writers and directors around the globe, focusing on all formats of TV, film, books, podcasts and digital media. He has sold multiple properties for his clients based on all different types of IP to places like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, ABC, Freeform, Disney +, Marvel, MGM, Imagine Entertainment, AGBO, Facebook Watch, Snap, and more. Alex has become an innovator when it comes to sourcing and creating IP for scripts that big companies want to buy. Alex will teach you all the ins and outs of finding and obtaining intellectual property to position your next project for success. He will begin by giving a rundown of what IP is and the three typical types seen in entertainment. He’ll then provide you with specific and helpful tips to find available IP that’s right for you and what to do if it turns out the property you’re after is unavailable. He’ll then discuss idea of creating your own IP in order to better sell your story as a film or series and how to enhance your IP by finding it a following in order to give it more clout and notice. Finally Alex will delve into the world of life rights and the different ways you can get permission to tell a real person’s story.You will have plenty of fresh, modern and unique IP options to make your project more marketable in today’s climate.   Praise for Alex's Webinar   "Informative! A good presentation!" -Susan D.   "This gave me so many ideas of how to get my current project noticed" -Regina G.   "Alex made something I always thought of as scary and impossible feel easy and achievable. I'm so glad I saw this" -Jeff E.   "I feel totally inspired to find my own IP now. Thanks, Alex!" -Jose G.

How to Produce & Shoot a Successful Low Budget Horror Film

Low budget horror films have never been hotter or more in demand. Last year, The Hollywood Reporter stated that the horror genre was saving the film business and that low budget horror was helping to lead the charge. More and more companies are looking to follow the Blumhouse model of making horror films on the cheap and then raking it in at the box office and VOD. Even the streaming platforms have jumped in with both feet. But make no mistake, just because many of these production companies and filmmakers are keeping their costs down, they are not skimping on quality. Quite the opposite in fact. Horror film aficionados demand great stories, memorable characters and scares that are earned. They want fresh ideas, a unique vision, and an experience they can return to again and again. To stand out from the crowd, you need to be prepared not only to find or produce great material, but to understand how to navigate the landscape. More people produce and shoot horror than just about any other genre. And in such a crowded field, it can be hard to stand out. Go to any film market or horror trade show and you are instantly inundated with posters for dozens if not hundreds of horror features, short films, television shows and digital content looking for a home. After a while, everything seems to look the same. But there is a way to break out of that crowded field and assure that your work gets seen, bought, distributed and/or screened. And we have just the guy to show you how to get it done. Nick Phillips knows horror. In his 20 years in the business, Nick has worked, developed and produced films for Miramax and Sony Screen Gems. In 2012, Nick co-founded his own production company specializing in genre films, the Revolver Picture Company. Just some of the films Nick has worked on include Scream, Halloween, Hellraiser, the Crow, Vacancy, Feast and The Roommate. Now, exclusively for Stage 32, Nick will share his knowledge on how to create terrifying films at not-so-terrifying costs. Films the industry wants to have a piece of and horror fans won't be able to get enough of. Nick will start by teaching you one of the most common failings of producers and filmmakers within the horror space, namely what you should look for in a horror script. From there, he will talk development and the production process during this all important period of the project's evolution. Nick will show you how to stretch your budget dollar, by minimizing locations (but maximizing how you use them), making the right hires, keeping the shoot moving and staying on schedule. He will teach you his tricks on working with actors during the most intense scenes and keeping them motivated. Speaking of actors, he will discuss whether name talent matters or whether choosing the best actor for the part is a better approach.  He will show you how to get the best production value throughout the film. And everyone knows, a great horror movie demands a sequel! Nick will show you how to set yourself up so that your project is franchise ready.   This is a fully comprehensive overview of how to immerse yourself in the horror genre as a producer and/or filmmaker.   "I have no desire to work in any other genre outside of horror. I've been frustrated that my vision always seems to be too expensive for the money I have available. Thank you, Nick, for showing me the path to seeing my vision through while keeping my costs down. I'm inspired again!" Matt H.   "There is nothing scary about this webinar. It's fantastic." Devon M.   "Man, was this eye opening. I have seen the light and now know how to keep my costs in check. Let the blood flow!" - Francisco D.   "My all female slasher grindhouse project is back on my production slate thanks to you, Nick. I don't know how that makes you feel, but I feel fantastic!" - Marissa G.

How to Direct for Animated Television

Think about the classic images of a director—sitting in a canvas chair, making a frame with your fingers and thumbs, yelling ‘action’ or ‘cut’. None of those things could even come up when you’re directing for animation, though. Honesty, the job of an animation television director doesn’t even exist within the public lexicon. If you’re not already directly within the television animation industry, you might not even have a basic sense of what goes into this line of work. Yet the role of an animation director is very real and getting to this level on an animated television show can be rewarding and lucrative. Top animated shows like THE SIMPSONS, BOB’S BURGERS, BOJACK HORSEMAN, PEPPA PIG and RICK AND MORTY succeed because of the top directing talent at the helm. If you’re a writer, an artist, an illustrator, a storyboard artist, a director or just passionate about animated television, there is a path forward to get into this landscape and work towards directing episodes of your dream animated show. But it might help to have a blueprint to get there, understand how the world of animated TV works, how people become directors within this world, and what directors actually do. Veteran director Mike Disa is here to offer you this very opportunity. Mike Disa is the director of the hit Netflix series PARADISE PD and has been in the animation industry for over twenty-five years. Mike found success working with studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Mike Disa has extensive knowledge of countless facets of animated TV and film. Mike will give you the nuts and bolts on the overall landscape and the details of what it takes to direct for animated TV. Mike will begin by discussing what it actually is that a TV animation director does and how it differs from other types of directing. He’ll go over the relationship between storyboarding and directing and one can, but doesn’t necessarily, lead to the other. He’ll discuss the how to be successful, valuable, and noticed while working on animated TV and how that will differ at an indie company compared to a larger studio. Mike will then walk you through the different types of animated TV, including children’s scripted, prime time scripted, anime, and premise-driven unscripted, and how the role and expectations of the director differ from one category to another. Next, Mike will delve into the general TV animation pipeline, the 9 steps you should expect from script to finished product. Mike will discuss the dangers of getting typecast within the animation world and how to navigate this tricky area. He will then walk you through 13 necessary skills you will need to learn and display in order to become a director and what skills might not be as important as you think. Mike will prepare you for the biggest challenges of this line of work and go through 5 common mistakes directors make. He’ll then discuss what sort of pathway there is to creating your own animated show and the way to make a lot of money in this line of work. He’ll finally give some practical advice on how to better succeed within the world of animation, including the benefits of getting an agent and the possibility of switching to live action down the line.   Praise for Mike's Webinar   "Mike is clear, insightful and conveys ideas and concepts very well. It was an excellent webinar!" -Jon P.   "Mike Disa was amazingly generous with his time and information. And he was real. It doesn't get better than that. I'll be able to apply his insights and the information he shared immediately. I'm so glad I decided to participate." - Elizabeth A.   "The webinar was excellent and very well paced. I truly appreciated the honesty and straightforwardness of the presenter. I learned a lot and look forward to the next one." - Jerry M.   "Great information, Mike did an awesome job and I will look forward to his next webinar." - Diane M.

How to Hire Your Director and Cast To Get a Greenlight

We've brought in producer Bradley Gallo, who's the CCO of Amasia Entertainment. Helmed by the former president of Marvel Studios, Michael Helfant, Amasia has emerged as one of the top production companies in the industry today. Bradley's recent film, Them That Follow, which he produced with Gerard Butler, is an official selection at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. In addition, he's worked on successful films such as Mr. Right (starring Anna Kendrick & Sam Rockwell) and The Call (starring Halle Berry). Over the last decade in the industry Bradley has mastered best practices to get a key director and cast attached to your film and he's going to be sharing his tips exclusively with the Stage 32 community!

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