First movie studio owned by Native Americans opens in New Mexico

Last year, the Tesuque Pueblo tribe of New Mexico opened a new casino, moving out of a 75,000-square foot facility that they quickly realized could be repurposed as a studio facility.

That idea was solidified in the fall, when the Universal Pictures feature “News of the World,” starring Tom Hanks, filmed at the facility. And thus launched Camel Rock Studios, which lays claim as the first movie studio owned by a Native American tribe in the history of Hollywood.

“Casinos, inherently, if you take out all the games, are big empty spaces,” said Timothy Brown, president and CEO of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation. “So we had an events center that we did concerts in and large parties that was a big vacant space. Once we removed all the casino equipment and furniture from the casino area, that became another large vacant space, and then with any business we had an entire administrative area with cubicles and offices that became perfect for their offices to move in.”

Brown said the corporation is aiming to take advantage of a filming boom in New Mexico, spurred in part by the state’s economic incentives. Perhaps best known recently for productions such as “Breaking Bad,” New Mexico has seen filming rise to the point that Netflix has even made Albuquerque its U.S. production hub.

The Land of Enchantment continues our history as the Land of Enchanting Movies.