You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Entertainment Partners Celebrates 40 Years of Service to Worldwide Film and TV Communities

The company has pioneered production payrolls, incentives consulting, and on-set technology

Few industries have taken greater advantage of digital technology than entertainment. The benefits extend not just to production and exhibition, but also to the behind-the-scenes worlds of accounting, payroll services, budgeting, and scheduling.

And few companies have ridden the digital wave more effectively than Entertainment Partners. When EP first opened its doors in 1976 as Independent Information Services, it focused on automating film and TV accounting — a process that was carried out with reams of paper forms in duplicate and triplicate.

Realizing there were synergies between managing the costs of production and cutting cast and crew paychecks, EP soon segued into payroll services, eventually becoming the biggest such provider in Hollywood.

Myfa Cirinna, exec VP of marketing for EP, explains the company’s evolution this way: “For almost 100 years, most of the industry focused on solving production as an individual event. [But] most of our clients produce more than one piece of content and [do] it over and over again, so we moved away from event solutions to a continuum opportunity.”

EP has done that by adding synergies through expansions and acquisitions over the past several decades, from extras casting, via its iconic Central Casting unit, and incentives consulting to its cloud-based Smart Studio Platform, a production management system that takes projects from the script stage to residual payments.

In the process, EP has made itself integral to the operation of studios and independents alike.

“Throughout any given week I find myself reaching out to Bob Pucher in their labor department and/or Joe Chianese in their tax rebates and incentive area with questions, seeking clarification, asking them if they ever encountered a similar situation to what I am attempting to work through,” says Brian C. Wensel, senior VP of production finance for Legendary Entertainment.

Mark Goldstein, EP’s president and CEO, says the company prides itself on being a leading agent of change, such as when it helped create the first fully compliant private industry health insurance exchange after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

“Our head of payroll sits in on an IRS compliance group, helping to shape how the IRS implements its laws,” says Goldstein. “On the labor side, we’re sitting in negotiations with the unions, and we’re often brought in by lobbying groups and chambers of commerce when they’re evaluating the credibility of the labor laws.”

Aside from its various operations, EP is also known for its ownership structure. Its employees — who number approximately 1,000 spread across 14 offices, with some 800 concentrated in its Burbank, Calif., home base — have their own perspective on labor issues: since 2004, the company has been 100% employee-owned.

“Because we’re an employee-owned company and we value employees as owners and partners with our clients, we’re able to retain the kind of subject matter expertise that’s important with our customers,” says Goldstein.

Then there’s technology. EP impacts the industry through its Smart Studio Suite, which includes information and document management, and its Scenechronize automated budgeting, scheduling, and script tools that let users break down scripts, create sides with the push of a button, watermark documents and customize permissions for content control.

The system speeds up the pulling of time cards, deal memos and reports for DGA audits, says Mike Rose, EP’s chief strategy officer and president of its Movie Magic Scenechronize Technologies division. “What once took weeks now takes minutes.”

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • Peaky Blinders Season 5

    Time-Jumping Season 5 of 'Peaky Blinders' Aims for a More Cinematic Look

    Cinematographer Si Bell was thrilled to learn he and director Anthony Byrne had been tapped to shoot the fifth season of BBC’s “Peaky Blinders,” but surprised to find out how free a hand executive producers Caryn Mandabach and Jamie Glazebrook were giving them to determine the scheme of their six-episode run. “I expected to meet the [...]

  • Ad Astra

    How 'Ad Astra' Production Crew Created Authentic Look for Brad Pitt Space Drama

    In “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt’s astronaut Roy McBride crosses the solar system to find and confront his long-lost father, requiring the movie crew to create an authentic-looking future that conveys the theme of traveling long distances to learn the lesson that it’s where you started from that has the most value. “Visually, the aim was [...]

  • Women in Animation Logo

    WIA Partners With Animation Mentor, Toon Boom to Expand Scholarship Program

    Women in Animation has partnered with Animation Mentor and Toon Boom to expand the organization’s WIA Scholarship Program with workshops and software packages. WIA scholarships are given to animation students with a financial need and who demonstrate talent and passion for animation that will lead to a promising career in the field. The Animation Mentor [...]

  • Steven Poster ICG National President

    DP Steven Poster to Receive SOC Lifetime Achievement Award

    Stephen Poster, cinematographer on such classics as “Donnie Darko” and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” will receive the Lifetime Achievement Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Camera Operators at a ceremony on Jan. 18, 2020. SOC grants the award to an Individual who has served the community at large and/or the Society through outstanding service [...]

  • Swedes Call for Incentives to Keep

    Swedes Call for Incentives to Keep Potential Runaways at Home

    Horror film “Midsommar” did it last year. A new adaptation of the Swedish classic “The Emigrants” will do it next year. Prestigious productions that could have taken advantage of beautiful Swedish locations and craft expertise continue to run away to foreign locations for lower costs and tax incentives. Despite having a strong film industry creatively [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    Ireland Lures Filmmakers With Locations, Expertise and a 37% Tax Credit

    Few locations on earth can match Ireland’s proverbial 40 shades of green. In addition to its restful hues, the island nation also boasts alluring lakes, rugged windswept coasts, small charming hamlets, rustic farmhouses of aged stone, hilltop castles and breathtaking expanses of wild scrubland. Bustling and modern Dublin, Ireland’s capital, will be the largest English-speaking [...]

  • UNDONE Animated Series Amazon

    How Animated Series 'Undone' Used a Mix of Techniques to Tell the Mind-Bending Tale

    When Kate Purdy wanted to tell a story about the nature of reality, she knew she wanted to play with perception and time, fade in and out of memories and give voice to visions that only her main character could see. And it wasn’t long before the executive producer and co-creator of Amazon’s new series, “Undone,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content