Today’s film studios use state-of-the-art technology to bring gripping visuals to life. But if you glance over to the offices where the checks are cut, you’ll find that some of them still haven’t gone paperless.

So why hasn’t entertainment payroll gone fully digital yet?

Well, it all comes down to the fact that embracing change is hard. But despite the friction, things are slowly transforming, and digital payroll is here to disrupt the landscape for the better.

But before we get into entertainment payroll specifically, let’s take a look at how general payroll transformed through the ages. You’ll be surprised at how far back it goes.

The History of Payroll

You might think payroll is a relatively new phenomenon but it turns out that its history dates back to the Neolithic Revolution, between 10,000-6,000 BC, when the first salaries would have been paid.

There are also some bizarre practices scattered throughout history. From ancient Egyptian employees being paid in beer to Roman soldiers paid in salt, we seem to have done it all.

But what about traditional payroll? Well, we can trace back its roots to bookkeeping during the industrial age.

Fun fact: According to Merriam Webster, the word “payroll” first appeared in print in 1740.

The next stage in payroll’s evolution was a result of technological progress.

The early IT-based payroll systems were developed in the 1950s, and the first computerized LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) could handle clerical tasks. It was eventually used to manage payroll activities as well.

Then, as industries became more complex and technology advanced further, the need for specialized payroll systems arose. That’s how entertainment payroll came into the picture.

Specialized systems like ProHire enable production teams to comply with legal obligations and ensure that all income tax deductions and national insurance contributions are being made properly.

This can take a weight off of the production team’s shoulders because failure to comply with state regulations can get the company into a lot of trouble and result in hefty fines.

Here are just a few benefits digital payroll has to offer the entertainment industry.

How technology changed entertainment payroll

  1. Managing finances became easier
    Think about it, the sheer complexity of a project where hundreds of people gather and spend millions of dollars is mind-boggling to comprehend. It would be impossible to manage without the use of technology.
  2. Mundane tasks got automated
    Companies that want to adopt cloud-based payroll are interested in tools that’ll make the process easier.
    Though there is a fear of job elimination as a result of payroll automation, the truth is that it frees people from performing mundane, transactional tasks and allows them to focus more on strategy and decision-making.
  3. Digital introduced flexibility
    Before technology took over, you’d have to get the grip’s check approved by the department head, then by the production manager, followed by the accountant, and, finally, by the line producer.
    With an automated system, everything is streamlined and hassle-free. You can simply drag and drop the approvals to get the job done.
  4. Paperless = environmentally friendly
    Going paperless is a big win for the environment. Just picture the sheer mass of paperwork involved in hiring new people on a production.
    Now, it can all be done in a few clicks, and the need to fill out multiple similar forms by hand is also a thing of the past.
  5. Quick access to digital records
    Pre-digital, storage was another headache. All records had to be tucked in file cabinets or stacked in a warehouse somewhere. Cloud storage has made recordkeeping and retrieving information so much easier.
  6. Data-driven decision-making
    With a digital payroll system, you get data in real-time. This lets you make better decisions, set up efficient processes, tweak things along the way, and saves you money in the long run.
  7. Security
    When it comes to data-sharing over the cloud, there is a risk of cyber-attacks. The 2014 Sony hack is a case in point.
    To ensure that your data remains safe, select the right cloud payroll provider. A reliable vendor will also have a simple and accessible interface.
    Revolution’s payroll, for example, keeps convenience and security in mind.

  8. Direct deposit
    In 2017, SAG-AFTRA signed a deal with a company that offers payment software solutions. The goal was to automatically deposit tiny residual payments electronically.
    This automation helped get rid of the millions of tiny payment checks and saved studios time and money.


All of the above makes it clear that going fully digital is a leap in the right direction for entertainment payroll. In an era when businesses need to keep up with the demands of the information revolution, it would be a shame to hold onto the old way of doing things.

The advantages are so abundant that the hurdle of overcoming the learning curve to onboard such a system seems negligible.
So, are you ready to save your production company time and money by adopting a digital payroll system?

Then get in touch with Revolution for a professional cloud-based entertainment payroll system! And if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to help.