Christa Valdez chats with blue-eyed "Better Call Saul" star Patrick Fabian, covers the state's cap on film incentives, promotes indie screenings and shares a list films and TV shows made in New Mexico now streaming on Netflix.
N.M. Film Focus: From ‘Better Call Saul’ to Incentive Debate
BY CHRISTA VALDEZ
You may know actor Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin on “Better Call Saul.” Or you might simply recognize his piercing blue eyes and chiseled jaw from enumerable film and television roles over his two-decade career.
ABQ Free Press spoke by phone with Fabian about “Better Call Saul,” other upcoming projects and the reasons why he’s an ally of the New Mexico film industry.
As New Mexico Film & Media Day’s 2016 keynote speaker, Fabian delivered a rousing speech at the Roundhouse on what the state’s vibrant film industry accomplishes for residents as well as for grateful migrant workers like himself.
The “Better Call Saul” star was elated by the recent announcement of AMC’s renewal of the hit series for a third season.
“I was thrilled to hear that it was official,” Fabian admits. “As an actor, you learn to never get too comfortable until the plane ticket is in hand.”
Fabian and his co-stars likely won’t return to New Mexico to resume filming until late summer or early fall. Yet Albuquerque and New Mexico remain part of his everyday life. He’s currently enjoying being recognized by people from all over the world who greet him with conflicted emotions over his enigmatic portrayal of law firm lead partner Howard Hamlin. Do we love or hate him? At this point in the series, it’s still impossible to decide.
Fabian is genuinely a fan of the show. His impossibly blue eyes light up as he confides that he’s thoroughly enjoying watching the relationship between eponymous star Saul Goodman née Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and the complex Kim Wexler (Rhea Seahorn) unfold.
“They just get to be boyfriend and girlfriend,” intones Fabian.
He remains understandably tight-lipped as to his own character’s fate, but admits some people are convinced Howard Hamlin will meet his demise before long.
“You never know. Harry could just wind up retiring on a beach somewhere,” he mused.
“I’m more worried about Mike (Jonathan Banks) and the trouble he’s getting mixed up in.” As both its star and a fan just like the rest of us, Fabian anxiously awaits more “Better Call Saul.”
In the meantime, keep an eye out for Fabian in the forthcoming suspenseful “coming of middle-age” film “DriverX.” In director Henry Barrial’s latest, Fabian plays a man at a literal crossroads, making ends (almost) meet as a stay-at-home dad turned ridesharing freelancer for an Uber-like company.
He says he relished the role. It found his character, Leonard, in sketchy scenarios with millennials on the streets of LA. Learn more about the actor at his website, PatrickFabian.com. And expect to see and hear more from Fabian on his imminent return to the Land of Enchantment.
Eight television series and three feature films roll between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. No less than three unnamed film productions are in the works over the next few months. Industry insiders simultaneously rejoice at our bounty and reflect on the impact of the state’s $50 million cap on film incentives.
This year’s productions are already on track to beat the record $288 million generated by the film industry for the state’s economy in 2015. Many New Mexicans working in the industry are worried that the cap may hinder incoming projects within the calendar year.
Film union business agent Jon Hendry has his eye on the generational impact the cap imposes on the state’s filming future.
“It’s not a cap on those working now,” Hendry said. “It’s a cap on the hopes and dreams of young New Mexicans.”
Several independent productions made in New Mexico will be showcased on silver screens in the coming months.
These films include “The Merry Maids of Madness,” “Monday,” “Opal,” “Leverage,” “Shadows of Waste” and more. Look for New Mexico-specific film blocks at local film festivals scheduled around the state. Browse a comprehensive calendar of area festivals at nmfilm.com.
In a first-of-its-kind screening, four Albuquerque-made movies screen together at the Monterrey International Film Festival (Festival Internacional de Cine de Monterrey) in June. The special program will feature works by New Mexico filmmakers from 82|92 Productions and 4.5 Films.
New Mexico indie production “T@gged” was picked up for digital distribution in late 2015 and is expected to resume filming a second season this summer.
N.M. film on demand
Need a New Mexico film fix STAT? The following N.M.-made movies and shows are now streaming on Netflix: “The Ridiculous 6,” “Bare,” “Frontera,” “The Homesman,” “Sweetwater,” “Frank,” “Big Sky,” “Boys of Abu Ghraib,” “Banshee Chapter,” “As Cool As I Am,” “Just Like a Woman,” “Odd Thomas,” “Seal Team Six,” “Tiger Eyes,” “This Must Be the Place,” “The Reunion,” “Persecuted,” “Lemonade Mouth,” “Inhale,” “The Killer Inside Me,” “Longmire,” “Breaking Bad” and the first season of “Better Call Saul.”
Featured, topmost photo of (from left) Patrick Fabian aka Howard Hamlin of “Better Call Saul” and columnist Christa Valdez posing together at this year’s Film & Media Day at the Roundhouse. Photo courtesy of author