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Manchester accountant prepares for his close-up

24th Aug 2007
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Action!The buzz may be fading around using film partnerships as a way of incurring deductible losses for tax purposes, but that hasn't stopped an enterprising accountant from dipping a toe into the world of film production. John Stokdyk reports.

Manchester-based UHY Hacker Young partner Clive Gawthorpe is trying to help Splintered Films raise £900,000 to produce a horror film called 'Splintered'. Rather than going down the partnership route, he's assisting the production company with an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to raise the cash. While AccountingWEB is constrained from promoting investment opportunities, it is understood that investors in the scheme would stand to receive a slice of the profits as well as a number of tax breaks.

'Splintered' was conceived as a psychological thriller that shows the tribulations of a teenage girl held hostage by two psychopathic brothers.

Gawthorpe said the project was a nice change from his normal job and commented: "If we pull the investment together, I'll get a small role in the film... I just hope it's not as one of the psychopathic brothers."

A gruesome prospect indeed... but one that rekindles memories of a pre-Dr Who Christopher Eccleston in 'Shallow Grave' as chartered accountant David Stephens, who gets drawn into the grisly goings-on in a shared Edinburgh flat.

Other all-time classic accountancy roles come to mind, starting with Gene Wilder's Leo Bloom, the suggestible accountant in the original 1962 version of 'The Producers'. In Billy Wilder's 'The Apartment', Jack Lemmon's character CC Baxter introduces himself: "I work on the 19th floor. Ordinary Policy Department, Premium Accounting Division, Section W, desk number 861."

And finally, who can forget 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty', in which Danny Kay stars as the day-dreaming beancounter?

Clive Gawthorpe has uncovered a rich vein indeed, and one that was explored a year ago by Mark Lee on his accountant jokes & fun blog (scroll to the bottom of the page to discover his catalogue of movie accountants - it's a great selection).

Can you add to the list, or recommend accountancy's all-time cinematic hero? It'll be a perfect conversation-starter for your bank holiday barbecue.


Replies (3)

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
24th Aug 2007 17:14

Could this be the one?
It was a pleasure to acknowledge your previous efforts in this area, Mark.

You listed some I knew, and some I didn't - so I went with my selection and thought that anyone who wanted to research further could visit your blog.

I have a dim memory of the production you mention - I think it was a topic of some mirth and Taking Stock coverage when I first started on Accountancy Age in early 1997, but so far the details escape me.

I thought it might have been 'Shooting Fish', but I think that just involved the placement of KPMG banners around the race track where the climactic scenes feature the "KPMG Challenge Cup"...

While researching your query, I did uncover news of 'The Tourist', due for release in December. According to, this will star Ewan McGregor as an accountant who joins a mysterious sex club and soon becomes the prime suspect in a woman's disappearance and a multi-million dollar heist...

McGregor has form in this area - he also played Nick Leeson in 'Rogue Trader', which featured some scenes that must have embarrassed Barings auditors, Coopers & Lybrand.

Returning to the hunt for your mystery film, I'm pretty certain KPMG was the firm involved, following a campaign masterminded by David Murrell, the firm's flamboyant media and entertainment partner during the 1990s. KPMG-branded items and adverts ended up in films including 'Mr Bean' and 'Wag The Dog'.

According to an entertaining 1997 article in CA magazine (PDF format), as part of the firm's deal with Winchester Films, the romantic comedy 'The Sea Change' included scenes filmed at KPMG's glitzy new HQ at Salisbury Square featuring wall planners, posters and even mugs bearing the Big Four firm's logo. The lead character was an accountant called Rupert Granger who gets marooned in a Barcelona hotel room with Ray Winsome, with hilarious consequences... I wish I knew more.

Has anyone seen the film? If so, you could enlighten us as to what actually happens - and whether the KPMG scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

John Stokdyk

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
30th Aug 2007 17:21

Good call Graeme
As the ubiquitous Mr Urquart proves, accountants really do make the world go round.

John Stokdyk
Technology editor

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By AnonymousUser
03rd Sep 2007 13:17

My firm is already actively doing this and has raised the budget. Approval is awaited for the EIS scheme and classification as a British Film. Filming has commenced on what is likely to be a huge success in 2008 starring Danny Dyer and Tamer Hussain. There are still very valuable tax breaks on film investment and film production itself. Film making is a very interesting business to be involved in and as part of our involvement I will have a cameo walk-on part which I am trying to arrange for any films we are involved with. Sort of on the lines of old Hitch himself!

Rob Graham

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