customer success

Smartypants uses Wrapbook to make a difference.


For New York-based production company Smartypants, creativity can take a number of different forms. That’s because the studio works on an especially wide variety of projects: ad campaigns for non-profits, commercials for big-name brands, and documentaries like 2022’s “Stranger at the Gate,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film.

For director Joshua Seftel, Smartypants’ founder, the key to the studio’s success lies in crafting stories that connect with audiences—whether in a thirty-second advertisement, or an award-winning documentary.

But managing a large slate of different kinds of projects can create an operational challenge, too, particularly where payroll is concerned. Alexis Gordon, Smartypants’ office manager, joined the company just as they were switching to Wrapbook for help managing onboarding, payroll, and compliance. Responsible as she was for keeping Smartypants’ wide variety of projects moving along, Gordon saw firsthand how Wrapbook’s digital-first approach to payroll made life easier for Smartypants, and streamlined how they did business.

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The Problem

Smartypants has range—their award-winning documentary shorts, inspiring non-profit PSAs, and attention-grabbing commercials are proof of it. The studio is at its best when it’s working on a little bit of everything. But that kind of range also created a problem: Smartypants’ old paper payroll service couldn’t keep up with the studio’s diverse slate of projects—or with their ambition to discover and champion worthwhile stories.

Paper payroll was sprawling, disorganized, and cumbersome. Producers at Smartypants would first have to distribute startwork and timecards to every single employee and freelancer, and then collect them after every single shoot, spending hours chasing after missing paperwork. And even once all the completed paperwork was in hand, producers would spend hours manually copying payroll data from one platform to another, a process that was painstaking, tedious, and a huge waste of time.

Why Wrapbook?

Wrapbook gives Smartypants peace of mind. The all-in-one payroll solution allows producers and administrators to track and manage their entire payroll on one simple and integrated platform. They can see when crew complete startwork documents, review and approve timecards, and factor payroll into their overall budget with Wrapbook’s seamless accounting integrations. No more rekeying data, no more manual calculations—Wrapbook makes everything smooth and seamless.

Crew at Smartypants love Wrapbook, too. The software makes filling out and submitting documents and timecards easy—whether on a desktop or on a smartphone. Plus, crew can track their payment status right in Wrapbook, so they no longer have to wonder when they’ll receive their next deposit.

The Solution

According to Gordon, switching to Wrapbook was a game-changer. All of a sudden, payroll was simple and straightforward. With Wrapbook, Smartypants’ payroll is organized in one secure, digital, easy-to-use platform. Gordon can quickly check the status of startwork documents, send reminders to crew when those documents still need to be completed, review, edit, and approve timecards, and seamlessly manage reporting to make sure payroll factors squarely into each project’s overall budget.

For crew, employees, and freelancers at Smartypants, Wrapbook makes onboarding and timecard entry easier than ever—so much so that Gordon recently received this text from a Smartypants production assistant: “I did my timecard last night. It's so easy on Wrapbook. I hope more productions start utilizing it as a service.”

“It's very simple and straightforward. It's helpful to have everything in one place. We can look at the people that we onboarded and know, ‘okay, this person has done their startwork, but they didn't sign or fill out their I9,’ for example. It's just really easy to have it all in one place, instead of going through tons of paper and trying to figure out who needs to do what.”

Project Dashboard

With Wrapbook’s project dashboard and custom notifications, disorganized paperwork is a thing of the past. Now all of Smartypants’ onboarding, payroll, and reporting can be accessed in one secure, digital interface. Administrators at Smartypants can quickly check the status of onboarding documents; approve, edit, or decline timecards; and much more, speeding up payroll and helping ensure crews get paid on time.

Smart Accounting Integrations

With Wrapbook's intuitive Hot Budget and Quickbooks accounting integrations, Smartypants’ accounting is just as smart as they are. Integrations allow Smartypants to export expenses from Wrapbook into their preferred accounting software. Now Gordon and other admins can see how payroll fits into their overall budget without painstakingly re-entering lines of data by hand.

Business Impact

Since they made the switch, Smartypants no longer wastes time wrangling reams of paperwork, tracking down missing documents, deciphering messy handwriting, or manually entering payroll data. The difference is stark: Wrapbook has saved Smartpants days on their wrap process, and Gordon estimates that, on each project, Wrapbook’s intuitive accounting integrations alone have saved Smartypants at least an hour of manual data entry.

That’s time—and money—that Smartypants can reinvest in their next thought-provoking documentary or game-changing campaign.

“Wrapbook saves us so much time and it makes it really easy, especially for some of the crew that we work with who aren't very tech savvy.”

The Future

Smartypants has spent the last several months promoting their Oscar-nominated short documentary “Stranger at the Gate,” the powerful true story of an Islamaphobic US Marine’s plot to attack a mosque in his small American town—a plot that he almost went through with until he came face-to-face with the very people he was planning to kill.

The documentary has been met with rave reviews and critical acclaim, and Smartypants is ready to follow it up with even more impactful projects in the coming year.

With Wrapbook streamlining their onboarding, payroll, reporting, and compliance, Smartypants can spend their time on what really matters: telling important stories and making a difference in the way we see our world.

PBS Digital Studios “Self-Evident” | Director: Smartypants Pictures

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