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MovieMaker ranks Santa Fe at No. 3 for small cities

The series, “Godless” filmed for five months in northern New Mexico. Pictured is Michelle Dockery as Alice Fletcher. (Courtesy of Ursula Coyote/Netflix )

Santa Fe is a great place to be a filmmaker.

This is according to MovieMaker, its annual list that tracks the best places to live and work as a filmmaker. On Wednesday, it released the list for small cities and towns.

The City Different fell one spot from the 2017 list to No. 3.

Leading the pack is New Orleans, La., which rose from No. 4 in 2017 to the top.

For the second year, Santa Fe trails Savannah, Ga.

Rounding out the top five is Pittsburgh, Penn. and Ashland, Ore.

On Tuesday, Albuquerque ranked at No. 6 for big cities.

“Between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, there are two New Mexico locations making waves in North America,” said Eric Witt, executive director of the Santa Fe Film Office. “That’s fantastic for us.”

MovieMaker pointed out that New Mexico’s generous 25-30 percent refundable tax credit with no minimum spend helps make the state a Southwest stronghold.

The list ranks the cities based on a city’s film activity in the past 12 months (number of productions, shoot durations, economic activity generated), film infrastructure in place (number of film schools and VFX houses, film commissions and other non-profits, film festivals, screening venues, prominent locals), and broader criteria such as population size, ease of transportation, local and state tax credits (a big one, of course), and architectural and geographical distinctiveness.

There’s been a lot of hard work put in by Witt and the Santa Fe city and county offices.

“I’ve been working with the departments to make sure we are film friendly,” he said. “That’s what I like about the ranking. It’s the best places to live and work. That talks a lot about the experience of being in New Mexico. There’s a professionalism and ease of being able to make your project here. That’s why we get so much repeat business.”

The magazine mentioned two projects about Billy the Kid, that were filmed in Santa Fe — a TV pilot called “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail” and a film called “The Kid,” with Ethan Hawke as the Kid’s nemesis Pat Garrett.

Both projects publicized their intentions to hire local New Mexicans during their shoots.

“Productions coming in from elsewhere now use 90-95 percent or more local crew and, increasingly, talent,” Witt said. “State and local government have put lots of resources into supporting the industry overall, training our crew and above the line talent so locals have the opportunity to make a good living in the business, and productions can source as much local cast and crew as possible.”

Top small cities and towns
1. New Orleans, La.
2. Savannah, Ga.
3. Santa Fe
4. Pittsburgh, Penn.
5. Ashland, Ore.
Source: MovieMaker

“Hostiles” filmed in and around the Santa Fe area during 2017. It stars Christian Bale. (Courtesy of Lorey Sebastian/Yellow Hawk, Inc.)

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