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NM Film Focus: Better & Farther

NM Film Focus: Better & Farther

Industry insider Christa Valdez reports on the economic boon of the New Mexico film industry, training and education and a potential breakout role for one New Mexico teen.


Better together

As “Independence Day: Resurgence” plays silver screens across the country, the economic impact rolls on here at home. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) released its latest figures on big-picture spending in New Mexico. The Albuquerque-based film shoot of the “Independence Day” sequel is credited with pumping more than $44 million into the state’s economy.

MPAA’s previous big budget report showed that “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” generated $23.5 million in revenue for the state. In less than one calendar year, these two productions alone are credited with paying more than 7,000 local workers an estimated $33.4 million in wages.

Both of these moneymakers were rooted in Albuquerque. Here in New Mexico’s most populous city, we enjoy a healthy influx of productions, thanks in part to our international airport, world-renowned production facilities at I-25 Studios and Albuquerque Studios, and an exceptional industry workforce made up of talent, crew and business support services.

The thanks for keeping film jobs in New Mexico is due in large part to the New Mexico Film Office (a division of New Mexico Economic Development Department), the Albuquerque Film Office and multiple film liaisons peppered across the state.

Made up of private businesses, unions and the county, the Shoot Santa Fe organization has long been a major driver behind community events such as the wildly successful annual Film & Media Day, which is held at the State Capitol during the legislative session.

Still from "Independence Day: Resurgence" / Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Still from “Independence Day: Resurgence” / Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Shoot Santa Fe now expands its reach to blanket the entire state. Along with a nifty name change, Shoot New Mexico, the collaborative effort aims to support locals in every film-ready city in the state to acquire productions and build a strong industry base.

Currently gearing up for next Film & Media Day and a busy fall, Shoot New Mexico is set to represent and promote local filmmaking at the Telluride Film Festival and the American Film Market & Conferences. In the meantime, the group stands strong behind efforts now sweeping Southern New Mexico to help spread industry goodness in that direction.

Southern exposure

Las Cruces’ newly appointed area film liaison Scott Murray says, “New Mexico enjoys a thriving film and television production business, and Las Cruces is poised to play a much larger role in it with our incredible vistas and locations, talented filmmakers and film schools, and great [year-round] weather. I look forward to working with everyone in our community to create new opportunities for us in this exciting industry.”

On the education side, Southern New Mexico residents can prepare for upcoming production opportunities with New Mexico State University classes in filmmaking. Get your crew on with film tech instructor Dan Williams, who says, “I am committed to helping anyone interested in getting introduced to the basics of [film crew jobs] and meeting the IATSE Local 480 requirements for membership.

The necessary safety certification, set readiness seminars, introductions to many craft areas, orientation on how to become a production assistant, the description of that position and many other need-to-know basics are covered.” To learn more, visit cmi.nmsu.edu/digital-film-making.

Join in on film community relations and submit your ideas and feedback to the Shoot New Mexico support organization by finding it on Facebook. To stay abreast of all things New Mexico Film, visit the state film office website, nmfilm.com.

On the salacious tip, the inbox at oneheadlightink.com is full of gossip, including rumors that a hit local production may soon boast a new “cast” member, owing to the fact that one of its current stars is rumored to be pregnant.

Most notably on the worldwide scene, it looks like it’s “official” that X-Men character Kate Bishop is on the call sheet for New Mexico filming of “Wolverine 3.”

Big goings-on

“The Run,” a film by executive producer Roma Downey, is headed to New Mexico. The movie is about a fallen Olympic track hero, whose crumbling life has reduced her to a high school track coach; there, she happens to stumble on a running phenom, a disenchanted teen boy who she sees as her ticket back to the big time.

Director Santiago Pozo is currently casting for the teen role. The ideal candidate will be a “scrawny and indigenous-looking,” 10-14-year-old actor from the Albuquerque area. A bilingual actor is preferred. The drama is scheduled to shoot in and around Albuquerque starting in September.

Featured photo credit: Christa Valdez

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

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