Heinrich Introduces Bill to Strengthen Film Industry and DOD Partnerships

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

U.S. Senate News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thursday, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., along with Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, introduced the Military Equitable Reimbursement Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow the Department of Defense (DOD) to retain payments for costs incurred during support of non-governmental film productions. 

Currently, DOD units can accept reimbursement for expenses associated with the use of military assets for production. However, due to ambiguity in existing law, there is uncertainty about whether DOD components, including installations like White Sands Missile Range, are eligible to keep these payments. 

“The Hollywood blockbuster Transformers, which was filmed at White Sands Missile Range, is a perfect example of the kind of partnership that is possible between the growing film industry in New Mexico and our military installations,” Heinrich said.

“Clarifying the reimbursement policy for the film industry allows movie productions to realistically portray the skill, heroism, capability, and challenges of our Armed Forces and their families while ensuring local installations are directly reimbursed for use of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. This bill serves the best interests of our Armed Forces, the film industry, and the communities that benefit from the jobs associated with motion picture production,” he said.

New Mexico is home to five military installations.  More than 700 productions have been filmed in New Mexico, including 205 major film and television projects since 2003 with budgets over $1 million each. An average of $235 million is now spent directly in the state economy each year by film and television companies. 

While New Mexico military installations have been used to film a number of popular motion pictures like Transformers, the reimbursement issue has also deterred some projects. 

The Military Equitable Reimbursement Act is endorsed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

“For decades, the motion picture and television industry has celebrated our military and captured the heroism of its brave men and women on the big screen,”Senator Chris Dodd, MPAA Chairman and CEO said.

“From the first Oscar-winning picture Wings in 1927 to the array of recent films depicting our armed forces, filmmakers and the military have a long history of working

together to create realistic and entertaining stories. Senator Heinrich and Senator Vitter’s proposal will strengthen this partnership and encourage future collaborations by streamlining the process by which our military is reimbursed its costs. I applaud the senators’ leadership on this issue,” Dodd said.          

“New Mexico’s extensive filmography dates to the late 1800s and is filled with stories highlighting our military,” Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office said. “We are lucky in that our five installations are unique in their topography and assets, and are highly sought after for filming locations.”