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NM Film Focus: On Industry, Creativity and Technology

NM Film Focus: On Industry, Creativity and Technology

We may well be living in the most transformative time in our state’s economic history, and that’s thanks in large part to film, television and new media productions.

BY CHRISTA VALDEZ

Christa Valdez

Christa Valdez / Photo credit: Carol Skipworth

Like most “overnight success” stories, the booming New Mexico film industry has been a work in progress for decades. It was nourished by Gary Johnson and Bill Richardson, with both ex-guvs’ sweeping support of film incentives. But the industry’s stronghold grew precarious under once infamously “anti-Hollywood” incumbent governor Susana Martinez.

The never-say-die attitude of industry supporters ensures that the local movie business rolls on. It takes the interest, effort – sometimes-literal blood, sweat and tears – and tenacity of hardworking New Mexicans to keep the industry alive here.

For the average New Mexico resident, attending casting calls or scanning for public notices of neighborhood filming is a passing phase. Few know the names of encouraging folks at the Roundhouse and in union halls and the countless small business owners and organizations that band together to ensure our state’s production lights don’t dim.

Even a subtle show of support can make a difference between surviving and thriving to your friendly neighborhood filmmaker. With continued government and community support, indicators suggest there’s no end to the industry’s growth and sustainability potential.

We may well be living in the most transformative time in our state’s economic history, and that’s thanks in large part to film, television and new media productions. In addition to revenue that pours into the state by visiting productions, local projects afford New Mexicans all sorts of interesting opportunities.

It’s getting so you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who’s part of the game. Chances to get in on this expansive, job-creating industry are in bloom all around us. One of several locals making their mark via the Internet is actor and filmmaker Matt Page. I recently spoke with Page about the trials and triumphs of being New Mexico’s reigning 25 million-views man.

Master Ken (Matt Page) prepares to bring the hammer down on web series “Enter the Dojo.” (Photo credit: “Enter the Dojo”)

Master Ken (Matt Page) prepares to bring the hammer down on web series “Enter the Dojo.” (Photo credit: “Enter the Dojo”)

Via Master Ken, his character on hit web series “Enter the Dojo,” Page now makes a living from a passion project that began as a fun weekend activity. The fourth season of the online series is set for release soon, and Page says he’s excited about opportunities the show’s notoriety will offer to more locals looking to join the ranks of cast and crew.

Streaming services are picking up original content at a breakneck pace. It’s only a matter of time before New Mexico productions will be considered for mainstream distribution. Netflix, for example, is certainly no stranger to New Mexico. This fall, the streaming service saw the most-watched movie debut in company history with locally-made Adam Sandler comedy “The Ridiculous Six.”

The network also holds the reins of wildly popular contemporary Western “Longmire.” The series was adopted by Netflix when voracious fans launched an online campaign petitioning for the show’s return. With “Longmire” and productions like it comes an influx of creatives who sometimes fall in love with The Land of Enchantment.

From left, Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) and his daughter Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) on A&E-cum-Netflix drama “Longmire.” (Photo credit: Netflix)

From left, Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) and his daughter Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) on A&E-cum-Netflix drama “Longmire.” (Photo credit: Netflix)

Cassidy Freeman plays Cady Longmire, a.k.a. protagonist Walt’s daughter, on “Longmire,” and she eagerly helps out at area events that bolster the film community. Last fall in Taos, Freeman was inspired to jump into the production of a locally-conceived feature. Written by Cheryl Nichols and Arron Shiver, Freeman describes the movie as an evocative and uniquely New Mexican drama she was drawn to.

Created on a shoestring budget over a few weeks, Freeman, her co-stars and the film crew lived and breathed the project. Everyone pitched in on necessary roles to ensure the work’s completion. Freeman reveals that she’s ready to get in on other projects filming all over the state. Here’s hoping Albuquerque will see more of Freeman in the coming months; she tells me she’s already a hit at many of northern New Mexico’s finest karaoke hangouts.

Ready, set, casting

Be ready to giddy-up to Santa Fe this summer when new Netflix mini-series “Godless” will be in search of a late 1800s-era Western cast.

Finishing up this spring, AMC series “Preacher” continues to roll film in Albuquerque. So does El Rey Network series “From Dusk Till Dawn.” Both series are regularly casting for a wide array of “types.” Background for “Preacher” is being cast by White Turtle Casting. Lorrie Latham is the background casting director on “From Dusk Till Dawn.”

Though set to wrap their respective fifth and third seasons, longtimers “The Night Shift” (Albuquerque) and “Longmire” (Santa Fe) will be casting background throughout the next several weeks.

In major motion

The feature film “No Exit” will be casting IRL firefighters for background and featured roles starting in mid-May or early June. 

In addition to the Wolverine franchise’s third installment, several unnamed films will shoot this summer in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Men, women and children of all “types” and ethnicities will be needed for important background.

Specific featured roles range from “unique looks” to real and former military. Up-to-date casting notices are posted as they become available at: oneheadlightink.com/nm-film/casting-calls

New Mexico film expert Christa Valdez, of OneHeadlightInk.com and ChristaValdez.com, reports on movie industry news for ABQ Free Press.  

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New Mexico film expert Christa Valdez, of OneHeadlightInk.com and ChristaValdez.com, reports on movie industry news for ABQ Free Press.

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Dan Klein

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque police sergeant. Reach him via Facebook and Twitter via @dankleinabq.

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