The armed forces obviously have to deal with a lot of requests from Hollywood, which is why the various military branches all have entertainment liaison offices. If your forthcoming production is supposed to depict military personnel, or you want to film on a base, you need to go through an elaborate clearance procedure that occasionally ends in tears. According to this compilation (large PDF) of weekly reports from the Air Force’s entertainment liaison, for example, you’re unlikely to get the green light if your TV show includes scenes from the Playboy mansion. (Sorry, aspiring producers of Gumball 3000.)
Yet as the reports reveal, entertainment liaisons aren’t just passive recipients of applications. Like any PR department worth its salt these days, they also reach out to filmmakers in the hopes of placing products. Take this tidbit, regarding the Air Force’s aspirations to piggyback on Agent 007:
“CASINO ROYALE”· (Sony/Columbia Studios) – While in London for filming of “Flight 93” we met with the new James Bond feature film director Martin Campbell at Pinewood Studios. During the visit we discussed our services and what the Air Force can bring to this major feature film. Mr. Campbell was receptive and we’re hoping to highlight a weapons system or Air Force mission in the next Bond film. We worked with Campbell previously on a project, not yet produced, titled “Night Witches.”
This makes us wonder if the military has any hard evidence regarding the correlation between film placements and recruiting numbers, or if they’re just operating on instinct. If a 17-year-old sees a really snazzy weapons system in a movie, is he or she really more likely to consider a career in the Air Force? Or would the money invested in these efforts be better used to offer inducements such as better signing bonuses? We hope we won’t have to write a FOIA request in order to find out.