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Lights, camera, action: New Mexico’s film industry on the rise

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ALBUQUERQUE — Within the enchanting landscape of the Southwest, New Mexico has emerged as a widely sought-after location for filmmakers. Recently, the state has experienced a surge in the film industry. Landscapes, diverse locations and supportive tax incentives have turned this state into a haven for filmmakers.

The New Mexico Film Office announced on Jan. 18 that Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces have landed spots on MovieMaker Magazine’s “Best Places to Live and Work as a MovieMaker.” Albuquerque ranks second on the big cities list and Santa Fe tops the small cities and towns list with Las Cruces coming in eighth.

“I love the New Mexico film community. I’ve made so many friends and seen so many amazing projects. This is such a beautiful place and I love seeing it get the recognition it deserves,” said Aster Brotman, a freshman film student.

The increase in film production has brought in some University of New Mexico film students, including Film & Digital Arts major, Magdalene Lowrance, who chose to attend UNM because of the location.

“I moved from Missouri to Albuquerque this year so that I could try to get work opportunities because Albuquerque is such a film hub right now,” Lowrance said.

In high school, Claire Russel, a freshman film student, said they found opportunity in Albuquerque through film summer camps and film festivals.

“Programs like the ‘Southwest School of Filmmaking and Film Prize Jr.’ are fantastic for young people to get into the film industry and are some of the reasons I’ve gotten as far as I have,” Russel said.

The State of New Mexico also implemented a film tax credit that offers rebates to production companies for eligible expenses incurred in film and television production. This initiative has drawn the interest of major Hollywood studios such as A24, Netflix, and has served as an incentive for independent filmmakers to opt for New Mexico as their preferred shooting location, according to Visit Albuquerque.

Capstone student and graduating senior Trin Moody hopes to see more development in the film industry from the state to retain film makers in the state.

“I’d argue that New Mexico could go even further with those connections, particularly in post-production,” Moody said. “I’d like there to be more retention here so that filmmakers don’t hone their craft here and then head off to another, more well-rounded state for aspects of filmmaking that New Mexico can’t fulfill.”

New Mexico’s unique and diverse landscapes have played a pivotal role in attracting filmmakers, including the Sandias, White Sands and Rio Grande River. Brotman said they hope more film companies come here and open more opportunities.

Several productions have chosen New Mexico as their filming location, solidifying its reputation as a rising destination for filmmakers. Beyond the Oscar Nominated film “Oppenheimer,” films such as “The Harder They Fall” and “El Camino” are notable projects created in New Mexico.

The growth of the film industry has sparked a sense of cultural pride among New Mexicans, Brotman said. The ranking allows local filmmakers and storytellers to gain recognition for their unique perspectives and contributions to the industry, Brotman said. 

Throughout the month, the New Mexico Film Office has announced three feature films — “Miss You, Love You,” “I’ll Be Gone in June,” and “Tyler Perry’s Joe’s College Road Trip” — and one documentary to be created in New Mexico, employing a New Mexican-based crew.

“I love the New Mexico film community. I’ve made so many friends and seen so many amazing projects. This is such a beautiful place and I love seeing it get the recognition it deserves,” Brotman said.

By Ella Daniel

New Mexico Daily Lobo

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