In another response to my Fun with FOIA project I today received a copy of the 1964 Pentagon doctrine on providing assistance to the entertainment industry. This directive precedes the 1988 version published here, and to my knowledge is now the oldest such document available online.
DOD Instruction 5410.16 titled ‘Procedures for DoD Assistance on Production of Non-Government Motion Pictures and Television Programs’ refers to several earlier documents in the series, which will be the subject of fresh FOI request, the results of which will of course be published here in due course. It mentions one particular clause that potentially expands the number of DOD-assisted productions by quite a large number. The directive reads:
Although no commitment for assisting in the production is implied, ASD(PA) may provide or authorize components to give guidance, suggestions, and access for technical research in the producer’s endeavor to prepare a script which might qualify the project ultimately for assistance.
Even before any formal assistance is granted, the Assistant Secretary for Defense (Public Affairs) can authorise the DOD to provide ‘guidance, suggestions, and access for technical research’ to help the director shape the script to suit the DOD’s requirements. This implies that a number of script ideas have been shaped by the DOD over the years without the resulting scripts and films qualifying for full or formal DOD assistance.
Thus, the DOD film list, already known to be somewhat incomplete despite containing over 300 films over the last hundred years, could be the tip of the iceberg. Film and TV projects that ultimately did not reach an agreement for DOD assistance such as Red Dawn probably had their ideas, story and script moulded to some extent to suit the DOD before negotiations broke down. This raises the possibility of filmmakers adapting scripts to try to please the DOD, failing to get their complete approval, and being left making a film that at least halfway suits the DOD’s overarching agendas. This expands the DOD’s scope of influence quite considerably.
You can download the 1964 Directive 5410.16 here (PDF).