New Mexico’s Film Crew Advancement Program provides money that helps with crew training
Take a journey with a crew member involved with the New Mexico Film Advancement Program.
Jeremy Wilcox did not expect to end up as a key accountant for NBC.
But his involvement in one of New Mexico’s incentives for film productions to locate in the state, the Film Crew Advancement Program, helped open doors that led to his employment with one of the top U.S. television networks.
The state-financed FCAP program trains crews on the job and encourages their advancement in the industry.
Wilcox grew up in Santa Fe and attended Santa Fe High School. He earned his bachelor of fine arts in film production at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. But, he was drawn back to Santa Fe to be with family.
His application for a job at the state’s film production office didn’t work out, but his résumé was passed on to the agency’s accounting office. And, for Wilcox, the story begins there.
Wilcox became a participant in FCAP, or as he says, he was “FCAPed.”
In FCAP, according to the New Mexico Film Office website, a production company is reimbursed by the state for 50 percent of a participant’s wages up to 1,040 hours of work in a specialized craft position. This on-the-job training program is in addition to the 25 percent film production tax rebate available to production companies.
Implemented in 2004, this on-the-job training program focuses on New Mexico residents working in primarily technical industry positions, according to Ben Cloutier, director of communications for the New Mexico Economic Development Department, New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Department. This program serves
as an incentive for participating companies to provide more job opportunities to New Mexicans.
Companies are approved by the Chair of the Job Training Incentive Program Board.
Since the 2004 fiscal year through the 2018 fiscal year, 214 companies have participated with 2,277 New Mexico trainees.
During that period the state has issued $13,069,880 in reimbursement and qualified participants have earned $23,617,096 in wages.
Finding a job was important to Wilcox at the time. His wife was pregnant and needed health care, so he pushed to find a position where he could join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480 union that included benefits.
Wilcox began his career in film as an accounting clerk on the film “Appaloosa” in 2007.
For his next job, he was hired as a second assistant accountant, despite the position requiring more “ability” than he had. But being FCAPed and having a basic understanding of accounting got him the job.
“My next show was ‘Terminator: Salvation,’” he said. “I don’t think I got FCAPed in that position. I was an assistant construction auditor and solely dealt with the construction office, which managed the building of the sets for ‘Terminator: Salvation.’ ”
After “Terminator,” FCAP kept opportunity knocking at his door.
“I lucked out on my next job I was hired on,” he said. “It was a television show called ‘Doc West,’ and they wanted me to do production accounting and I didn’t have enough experience. They knew they could FCAP me and the woman I was speaking to, Eileen Street, was very strong on the financial side. She took a chance and hired me. It was way beyond my understanding at that point in time. I made it through the production of the show and learned a great deal.”
Wilcox working with FCAP led him to a variety of experiences on productions of all sizes.
“I worked as a construction buyer on the film ‘The Book of Eli’ and I knew I was FCAPed,” Wilcox said. “The position is more of a focus on the materials that are needed, as well as the cost, budget and the payroll within the construction department. It turned out to be a really good experience to move back down in position and do construction buying, which in itself is a miniature production.”
Wilcox moved into some major productions made in New Mexico.
He worked on the films “Cowboys & Aliens” and “Tiger Eyes,” and he also got a job on the TV movie “Truth Be Told.”
“I think that was the second time I was FCAPed as an accountant. It was a smaller show. I did some really small milliondollar shows and I was the only person
in the accounting office,” he said. “For being FCAPed, I got all the experience I could ever want. I had to essentially do everybody’s job.”
He said he got another “lucky break” when he was called to work on “The Lone Ranger.”
“I was hired as a first assistant accountant, and that helped me move up in the scene in New Mexico and understand the nuances of the tax incentive and how they wanted everything handled,” he said. “I was involved in many discussions between Disney and the New Mexico Film Office. That experience on my résumé helped with my future jobs as an accountant here in New Mexico.”
His streak continued when he received a call from an accountant that he had run into in New Mexico who had since become a finance executive at NBC. He offered Wilcox the chance to be the key accountant on the television show “Midnight, Texas.”
Wilcox has now been working with NBC for two years.
He is now responsible for about 300 crew members every week and a cast that ranges from 15 to 20 people every episode. A large number of extras are needed, as well.
Wilcox oversees the payroll, as well as payments, which includes renting needed equipment and services for the production.
He is responsible for the money side of all of it. His signature must be on every document associated with the production. He checks for their legitimacy and puts together cost reports and budgets.
Accounting might not have been Wilcox’s first career choice, but it has turned out to be his calling.
Wilcox said, “It was a whirlwind, I will say.”
And he credits the state program intended to help production companies locate here as helping establish him in the film and television industry.
“(FCAP is) an asset to employees that are brought up into a position that they wouldn’t necessarily do and get training, knowledge and a skill set that they can use not only in New Mexico, but all over the world,” he said.