12 Apr 2019
Ola joined Game of Thrones in Season 1 as an office accountant, a year after she arrived in the UK from Poland to be with her husband who had taken up a job offer in Belfast. Her husband works in the industry but her career path into it was unexpected.
She had trained and worked as a teacher in Poland before joining Bombardier’s accounts office. She liked the work and jumped at the opportunity when her agency found an opening in the accounts office of the fantasy adventure, Your Highness. From there she moved on to the crime comedy, Whole Lotta Sole, doing similar work during its filming in Belfast. The move from being a small cog in a big wheel at Bombardier, to being one of just three people in a production accounts office was very rewarding. ‘It opened up opportunities to do so much more in the role, and at a higher level. I learnt on the job, and I loved it – all of it - everything from invoicing to petty cash and payroll.”
Sabrina says, “There is a real shortage of accountants in high-end TV drama, particularly with experience of US accounting techniques. Ola had shown during her time on Game of Thrones how much she enjoyed production accounting, and what a quick learner she was – so she was an obvious choice for ScreenSkills’ Stepping Up programme. We approached her and she didn’t hesitate.”
Ola says, “The scheme was quite structured. Right from the very beginning, Ally O’Leary, the Financial Controller, and Joan Lambe, the UK Accountant, discussed my experience, and what they wanted me to be doing and what it would be good for me to learn. We’d review things each week. I worked really closely with Ally, helping out with the weekly cost reports, making sure that all journals were posted, that everything was tagged correctly, and trying to predict future costs. Generally, making sure that everything’s in the system, and that the bible of all costs is up to date and in the right place. We used the American production accounting software, PSL - tailored to the US studio approach. It’s very user-friendly for inputting data, and you can generate all sorts of reports – from what happened the previous week to something really random just so long as you know what you’re looking for.”
Ola feels that the experience gave her much more confidence. “It enabled me to understand the whole process and gave me the certainty that I was able to do things by myself. Ally gave me more and more responsibility – culminating in me being made Northern Ireland Accountant in Seasons 7 and 8. It has been so exciting and the experience on Game of Thrones has made my career really. To have the opportunity for training and working on a US studio production is fantastic. I’ve met so many people who have helped me with my career. ”
Ola went on to be the UK accountant on the Superman prequel series, Krypton, filmed in Belfast. Looking forward, she wants to stay in the industry, progress to production accountant and travel the world on location.