ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque is down, but not out.
According to MovieMaker Magazine’s new list of the “Top 10 Cities to be a Moviemaker: 2013,” the city comes in at No. 8. It had ranked first in 2010, second in 2011 and third in 2012.
“We’re still in the top 10, and being recognized is a good thing,” said Ann Lerner, the city of Albuquerque’s film liaison. “We’ve had a lot of great productions come here and experience how great it is to make a film in Albuquerque.”
Topping the list is Austin, followed by New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., Detroit and Boston. New Orleans and Atlanta fall just below Albuquerque.
MovieMaker takes into consideration cost of living, average income levels, housing rates, employment opportunities and overall quality of life. It also looks at state and city financial incentives, access to talent – behind and in front of the camera – ease of shooting, local movie-related resources and vendors, exposure to other moviemakers, screening opportunities and nearby studio space.
Despite the drop in rankings, MovieMaker had plenty of good things to say about the city. It pointed out that “The Avengers,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Breaking Bad” all filmed in Albuquerque, which it called the “creative capital of the Southwest,” because of its long-standing reputation as a dependable, cost-effective city in which to film.
Albuquerque falls under the film incentive program for New Mexico, which offers a 25 percent tax credit on all goods and services in the state. It also offers a 6 percent tax deduction on gross receipts. Four years ago, New Mexico’s incentive package was the gold standard in the industry. Today, many other states offer 30 percent or more of a tax credit.
The state’s film incentive program came under fire last year, when the Legislature passed a bill to place a $50 million annual cap on the program. Some industry experts have said the criticism and uncertainty are more harmful than the actual cap.
Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office, has taken trips to Los Angeles in the past year to ensure that industry players know the state is open for business.
The city is also home to Albuquerque Studios and I-25 Studios, which provide plenty of soundstage room. And, it has been credited with a strong support industry in terms of technicians and developing crew members.
“If the live-in film community continues to grow over the next few years as more moviemakers drawn by the tax incentives decide to stay permanently, expect to see Albuquerque climb our ranking ladder again,” the magazine report noted.
Lerner said some productions, such as “The Host,” would shoot the studio work somewhere else where the incentives are higher.
“Then they’d come to here to shoot all of the exterior shots,” she said. “The producer for ‘The Host’ had shot here twice before and being able to shoot in a film-friendly environment brought him back.”
Filmmaker Craig Butler made his small-budget film “The Righteous and the Wicked” in New Mexico.
“It (New Mexico) has great incentive and numerous production resources, such as a prop/costume warehouse filled with things left behind by past productions,” he said, “and entire Old West towns that have been preserved as film locations.”
Lerner said this year has started out strong. The final eight episodes of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” are filming in the city. “Force of Execution” with Steven Seagal wrapped on Tuesday and will head into post production. And the movie “Frank,” starring Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal, wrapped in January.
“Albuquerque doubled for Austin and that city was ranked in the top spot for making movies. It’s weird how it all works out,” she said.
Lerner doesn’t see the drop in ranking hurting the city’s ability to host film productions.
“We’ve spent the last year making sure Hollywood knows that we’re still here,” she said. “… and I’m going to continue to work as hard as I can to keep Albuquerque on the map.”
City 8th on Moviemaker ListAlbuquerque Had Ranked Among the Top 3 Over the Past 3 YearsRecent Albuquerque rankings2013 No. 82012 No. 32011 No. 22010 No. 12009 No. 5
Source: MovieMaker Magazine
how city fares
Top locations for 20131. Austin2. New York3. Seattle4. Los Angeles5. Portland, Ore.6. Detroit7. Boston8. Albuquerque9. New Orleans10. AtlantaSee CITY on PAGE A2Courtesy of AMC/Frank OckenfelsAaron Paul, left, and Bryan Cranston star as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White in the AMC series “Breaking Bad,” which is set and filmed in Albuquerque.2012 films in AlbuquerqueHere is a list of films shot in Albuquerque”Frontera””Lone Survivor””American Girl: 2013 Girl of the Year””We’re the Millers””50 to 1″”2 Guns””Chef Race: UK vs US””Breaking Bad: Season 5″”The Lone Ranger””Vegas””The Host””The Last Stand””In Plain Sight: Season 5″
Source: Albuquerque Film Office
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal