Veterans will soon get a chance to be part of the New Mexico film
And it was the film "Transcendence" that fast-tracked the initiative forward.
Gov. Susana Martinez unveiled "Operation: Soundstage" on Thursday in Albuquerque. The pilot program will put military veterans to work on movie and TV productions in New Mexico.
Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office, said that when the film "Transcendence," starring Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman and Kate Mara, rolled into New Mexico, the production hired two New Mexico veterans for the crew.
"These two guys did all of their work and so much more," Maniatis said. "That's work ethic production companies want to see. Word got back to the governor about that, and it really pushed the idea for the program forward."
The program is the result of a joint effort by the New Mexico Film Office, the New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services and New Mexico Workforce Solutions.
Maniatis said there is a federal tax credit for companies who hire veterans and his goal is to let local businesses and production companies know about them.
"The goal is to get more New Mexicans working," he said.
Maniatis said the film office's Job Training Initiative Program finances training that helps New Mexico crew members advance their education and become qualified for new crew jobs.
The program will also ensure that veterans who are eligible for the GI Bill will be able to access film-career development programs at New Mexico colleges.
"We're going to work with the local colleges and make sure that these veterans get the training," he said. "What I'd like to eventually do is add abovethe-line jobs to the training and get more people moving up the ladder when it comes to filmmaking."
Maniatis also said the film office currently offers production assistant training for veterans.
Through the Film Crew Advancement Program, Martinez said "Operation: Soundstage" will add a position on each production to be filled by a New Mexico veteran.
"Movie and television productions offer job opportunities that are great matches for the skill sets our veterans learn through their service in the military," Martinez said. "As a result of their military training, veterans can lead or take orders -- and know the value of teamwork required by movie makers on any given project."
(c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com
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