U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, highlighted the partnership between New Mexico’s film industry and military installations earlier this month while touring the production set for a new film from Paramount Pictures starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, and Martin Freeman, currently being filmed at Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in Albuquerque. Senator Heinrich met with some of the filmmakers where he discussed how expanding opportunities for film production in New Mexico helps drive the local economy and showcase the state’s assets.
Last year, Senator Heinrich successfully included the Military Equitable Reimbursement Act, legislation he introduced with Senator David Vitter (R-La.), into the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed into law in December 2014. The Military Equitable Reimbursement Act allows the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to retain payments for costs incurred during support of non-governmental film productions.
“Collaboration between the growing film industry in New Mexico and our military installations boost the local economy while showcasing the incredible talent of our Armed Forces,” said Sen. Heinrich. “I’m proud to have passed a law to strengthen this partnership and will continue working to ensure New Mexico remains a top destination for future movie and television productions.”
Previously, DOD units accepted reimbursement for expenses associated with the use of military assets for production. However, due to ambiguity in previous law, there was uncertainty about whether DOD components, including installations like White Sands Missile Range and KAFB, were eligible to keep these payments. As a result, military installations would often be reluctant to proceed with film production support.
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.
The film industry had a $1.5 billion total economic output in New Mexico throughout a four-year span starting in 2010. An estimated 15,848 full-time jobs were created by the industry during that time period.