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Operation Soundstage aims to help veterans transition to film industry

As the New Mexico film industry continues to grow, Operation Soundstage is aiming to help veterans and reserve members transition into the industry.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham official.(Courtesy Office of the Governor)

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the state is working with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) with offering new incentives for the pilot program.

On Monday at the Roundhouse, Gov. Lujan Grisham said Local 480 is now offering financial waivers to those wanting to enter the training program. The union will waive the $800 initiation fee, so veterans are only responsible for a $100 processing fee. Local 480 is also waiving the membership requirement of working 30 days in a covered craft, with some restrictions.

“Military veterans have given us so much. They have sacrificed and their families have sacrificed, and my administration will always do everything we can to assure them they are valued, recognized, and loved,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “To that end, I am thrilled about this new program, which will help veterans who want to enter this exciting industry of film and television get a leg up and a foot in the door.”

According to the New Mexico Film Office, the program is administered through the Film Crew Advancement Program (FCAP), part of the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) for Film & Multimedia, through a multi-agency partnership, which includes the New Mexico Film Office (NMFO), the New Mexico Department of Veteran’s Services, and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, in collaboration with IATSE Local 480. Its main purpose is to increase the hiring and training of New Mexico veterans.

Currently, potential employers are incentivized by New Mexico Film Office through training reimbursements for crew members that advance their profession.

As part of FCAP, this sub-program will provides a 50% reimbursement of the qualified participant’s wages to the company for up to 1,040 hours physically worked by the crew member. These funds are available for a limited number of positions.

Operation Soundstage will offer one position on each production specifically to a New Mexico veteran participating in the program.

“The film industry honors military veterans and we know they can provide an excellent pool of talent,” said Alicia J. Keyes, Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary. “With this training, veterans and reserve members can gain valuable set experience and segue into more advanced industry positions, such as carpenters, electricians, sound technicians, makeup artists, costumers, and drivers.”

IATSE Local 480 represents professional film technicians working “below-the-line” on TV and movie productions in New Mexico.

“Local 480 represents 99 different craft departments from construction, art, hair and makeup, wardrobe, special effects, and production accounting,” said Liz Pecos, president of IATSE Local 480. “Many veterans already possess skills that would be transferable to a film job, such as an armorer, who oversees how firearms are used during a production. We look forward to helping veterans fast track into the union so they can gain access to training and support in finding the right niche for themselves in the film and television industry of New Mexico.”



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