New Mexico Film Commissioner Says the State Is in Showbiz for the Long Haul

Zahn McClarnon in Dark Winds

So it was that after a certain long weekend noted not only for its reflections on gratitude but also a lot of revisionist history and rampant consumerism, we found ourselves chatting with Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office — a position she assumed some three years ago (after overseeing Albuquerque’s citywide film office)…

“We know we’re on a great growth trajectory with New Mexico. We know we’re poised for growth — but this is kind of nuts.”…

Of course, production hasn’t been the only thing that’s gone nuts since Covid hit. Fissures that were already apparent in American (and global) culture erupted with a vengeance after the 2016 election, and with the ongoing politicization of the pandemic itself.

And not just the pandemic, of course. Books, amusement parks, teachers, women’s healthcare, the right to vote — all are currently under attack by forces that seem to view a razed, societal monoculture as their ultimate expression of the American experiment.

Those fissures have also resulted in productions moving from Georgia to New Mexico, Dodson recounts. When Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s restrictive voting measures into law after 2020’s false election claims, “we saw movies instantly relocate.”…

RTFA, please. Some will see this as a “worse for some, better for us” situation. Not really. Preparing for a productive future enables a wide range of opportunities. They can and will stem from any number of contextual flows. Positive, negative…simply folks seeking a better way to express and grow better lives for themselves and their families…

New Mexico on the Movie Map

The film and TV tax credit that put New Mexico on the map is now nearly two decades old. Launched in 2003, it didn’t just transform the production landscape in the Land of Enchantment, along with a new tax credit in Louisiana, the state also kicked off a domestic incentives arms race that created vibrant industry hubs across the country and changed how projects are financed.

Today, New Mexico offers a base 25% refundable tax credit that can go as high as 35% when other uplifts are factored in. For instance, productions can earn an additional 5% by shooting in one of the state’s 15 qualified production facilities, an offer the state would’ve been unable to make in the early days of the incentive, when productions searching for soundstages usually had to settle for an abandoned warehouse or factory.

Direct production spend in New Mexico hit a record $855.4 million in fiscal year 2022, up 36% year-over-year from 2021. The state has also been benefiting from the trickle-down effects of film and TV tourism.

And, of course, reliable work for technical and creative staff enables folks to move here, live here…continue earning their living somewhere laid back and mellow.

A Third Large Film Company to Headquarter in New Mexico

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Wednesday that…over the next six years, California-based 828 Productions plans to invest $75 million to build a 300,000-square-foot studio and 20-acre back lot, creating at least 100 high-paying jobs in Las Cruces. The firm began ramping up its production efforts in May 2022, filling key positions and purchasing a 7,500-square foot office building in downtown Las Cruces for training, post-production, and visual effects work.

The state of New Mexico will pledge $3 million to the project from the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) job creation fund as the company meets its job target of at least 100 full-time year-round employees.

“New Mexico is seeing a record number of productions from the film and television industry and all-time high spending, and it’s no accident,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Not only are we are investing in studios like 828 Productions, we are expanding industry workforce training with a new film school in Albuquerque and Las Cruces – and it is paying off.”

My favorite kind of blog post. GOOD NEWS!

War Pigs

Want to know what this was all about – STILL IS all about? Watch the documentary about BLACK SABBATH’s hit album, PARANOID. That’s what it had to be named to get the American producer$ on board and releasing it in the states.

Ozzie and the band called the album WAR PIGS. In case you ever forgot the VietNam War, bubba.

I return to “Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”

From one reviewer:

This film… is amazing. This is the only way that I can POSSIBLY describe the brilliant acting performance of Tom Courtenay, one of my all-time favorite actors. His depiction of Colin, a young man from the lower class society of Nottingham, is remarkable. In fact, depiction is quite the wrong word for what he does with that character. Courtenay does not play Colin, he IS Colin, pure and simple. I will not give a summary simply because it is impossible to explain the story line without seeing the film. I have tried to explain the story line to my friends, and they just can’t understand what I’m raving about. Anyone who is reading this, WATCH THIS MOVIE! It is one of the best films the ’60s has to offer.

I can only add what this film was for me. I paid my annual revisit, tonight. Watched via AMAZON PRIME on the telly.

First saw this in a small neighborhood “art” theatre. A converted barn in New Haven, CT in 1962. When I left the performance and returned to my 4th floor walkup a few blocks away I knew I had a new author to read, a film producer/director to watch for.

The film was made by Tony Richardson. All film buffs have enjoyed one or another of his films. This is my favorite. It led me to the writing of Alan Sillitoe whose short story was the theme of this film…and he wrote the screenplay as well. His works of fiction colored in my studies of philosophy…materialist dialectics of Marx, Engels and Lenin, Herbert Aptheker and his peers in the USA, especially John Somerville.

Aptheker’s commitment as a Communist to the exploding Civil Rights movement led me to organizing and Jimmy Higgins-work in labor unions in the factories where I worked most of my life…in the civil rights movement where I started by helping to organize chapters of C.O.R.E. in cities in the industrial Northeast.

Neither of those commitments has ever left me.

NBCUniversal to Invest $500 Million in a Production Studio in Albuquerque

NBCUniversal is setting up shop in New Mexico, announcing plans on Friday to build a new TV and film studio in Albuquerque and pledging to spend $500 million in production over the next 10 years.

NBCU is entering into a 10-year venture with Garcia Realty and Development to redevelop an empty free-span warehouse in the New Mexico area into a state-of-the-art studio with two sound stages, offices and a mill. Over the next 10 years, NBCUniversal will produce television and film projects at the Albuquerque facility, with the aim of reaching $500 million in direct production spending…

The deal comes just months after Gov. Grisham signed into law one of the most aggressive incentive packages for the film and television production industry in the United States, which doubled the annual payout for productions that come to New Mexico. This also comes as other states like Georgia and Louisiana are coming under fire for new abortion laws that have led to calls for Hollywood studios to boycott those states.

Lots of solid movie production talent with decades of experience here in New Mexico. Sounds like a win all the way round.

Some notes from the War Room

1962. It was a death-gray afternoon in early December and the first snow of the New England winter had just begun. Outside my window, between the house and the banks of the frozen stream, great silver butter-fly flakes floated and fluttered in the failing light. Beyond the stream, past where the evening mist had begun to rise, it was possible, with a scintilla of imagination, to make out the solemnly moving figures in the Bradbury story about the Book People; in short, a magical moment suddenly undone by the ringing of a telephone somewhere in the house, and then, closer at hand, my wife’s voice in a curious singsong: “It’s big Stan Kubrick on the line from Old Smoke…”

I won’t attempt to reconstruct the conversation; suffice to say he told me he was going to make a film about “our failure to understand the dangers of nuclear war.” He said that he had thought of the story as a “straightforward melodrama” until this morning, when he “woke up and realized that nuclear war was too outrageous, too fantastic to be treated in any conventional manner.” He said he could only see it now as “some kind of hideous joke.” He told me that he had read a book of mine which contained, as he put it, “certain indications” that I might be able to help him with the script.

And I won’t attempt to construct a precis of this entire article in a couple of succinct and witty paragraphs. It’s a great narrative read. Funny, witty (yes), critical and understanding of every sort of problem, unanswered questions, attendant upon serious movie-making.