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NM Film Focus: Celebrity + Community

NM Film Focus: Celebrity + Community

Christa Valdez reports on the state of the New Mexico film industry. Topics include: actors' amiability; a homegrown screenwriting grant; equine training opportunities; and movies and TV filming now in The Land of Enchantment ... and coming soon.


Folks love celebrity gossip. Among local cast and crew, set stories abound, but they typically remain there. Recent retellable mitote includes Paul Rudd scoring major points with cast, crew and Santa Fe residents for being “a doll” while shooting “An Ideal Home.”

Other actors are known for being less jovial. One frequent New Mexico production star is widely reported to be dismissive or “curt” on set. Here’s the thing: he’s here to work, and he’s outstanding at his job. He won’t be a goodwill ambassador for our state anytime soon, but his projects succeed, bringing enhanced visibility, and thus more work, to The Land of Enchantment.

Some industry enthusiasts live for tales of congenial celebs around town. Chatter about negative stories often gets more press, but the best New Mexico-celebrity interactions are the ones that result in genuine community. Fantasy author George R.R. Martin, whose novels spawned international TV phenom “Game of Thrones,” chose New Mexico as his home and an investment.

Martin’s screenwriting grant stands among his many contributions to the local scene. In partnership with New Mexico Film Foundation, Martin funds a yearly $5,000 sci-fi/fantasy grant. Submissions for the third annual competition are open through Sept. 15. For more info, visit nmfilmfoundation.org/grants/grrm-grant

Getting cast as background talent is a great way to break into the local production world. Paul Rudd’s “Ideal Home” is expected to film through July. An untitled drama dubbed “Granite Mountain” is looking for IRL firefighters, young children and an array of general and specialty types through September.

Feature film “Cowboy Drifter,” starring acclaimed character actor Chelcie Ross (“Mad Men,” “Drag Me to Hell”), films in Belen before heading to Santa Rosa, N.M., later this month. At least one Western and one miniseries (more are coming) will need oodles of “cowboys” for expansive scenes.

Speaking of cowboys, summer’s a perfect time to acquire special skills training. From horseback riding and firearms training to playing sports or musical instruments, productions frequently need background actors with specific skill sets. Monique’s Movie Ranch in Corrales, N.M., is an excellent resource for actors interested in being an asset on sets where equine prowess is prized.

Staycation and enroll in classes. Thespian and technical hopefuls alike can benefit from an acting class, crew training or simply researching local film resources and organizations. As I’ve mentioned, success in the industry won’t come knocking; you have to get out there and earn it.

One upcoming opportunity is this year’s 48 Hour Film Project. Albuquerque teams will create a short film from concept to post-production in just two days, July 15-17. It’s an epic crash course in local filmmaking. Join up at their website, 48hourfilm.com

It’s a fluid industry. Some incoming production tips fizzle, and others reach fruition. That results in local work boots and talent on the ground and the silver screen. It also offers local businesses a chance at production dollars. Here’s what’s set to roll.

Now filming: “Cowboy Drifter,” “An Ideal Home,” “Godless,” an untitled project nicknamed “Granite Mountain,” “Longmire,” “The Night Shift” and “From Dusk Till Dawn”

Jennifer Beals snapped a selfie (in character as Dr. Syd Jennings) on the Albuquerque set of “The Night Shift.” Photo credit: NBC

Filming soon: “Better Call Saul,” “Midnight Texas” and “Hostiles”

Now playing: “Preacher” airs Sundays on AMC. “The Night Shift” airs Wednesdays on NBC.

On the horizon: Contemporary dramedy “Villa Capri” is scheduled to start production here by the end of July. The film stars Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman, actors who’ve worked in New Mexico before. Jones and Freeman play rival residents of a Palm Springs retirement home who must join forces. In forthcoming series “Bettyville,” which will film in our state, former Santa Fe resident Shirley MacLaine is slated to star as mother to son Matthew Broderick.

UPDATE: The bulk of the estimated 3-to-4 month-long shoot of “Wolverine 3” is taking place in New Orleans. But during the next couple weeks, the New Mexico filming portion takes up residency in Albuquerque. The production is expected to shoot through the end of June. Bienvenidos, Hugh Jackman & Co.

Featured image: “Preacher” prime mover Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) Photo credit: Matthias Clamer/AMC

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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.

Latest posts by Christa Valdez (see all)


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  • 75
    June 30, 2018, 3:58 pm


  • superiorpapers.com
    July 9, 2018, 6:04 am

    Well yes, i did read something similar along the line about this guy here an his field work while doing superiorpapers.com and well i wasnt expecting this at all, lets see what happens next! I am dying to know whats stored on ahead for this !

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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