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Sowing seeds: Nonprofit Spotlight Foundation boosts opportunities for emerging filmmakers

Christa Valdez has been in the film industry for more than a decade.

Along the way, she’s become an advocate for the industry and keeping it local.

A year ago, she put her money where her mouth is an started the nonprofit New Mexico Spotlight Foundation.

Christa Valdez

“I’ve worked in and around the film industry for 10 years now,” Valdez says. “First as a blogger/reporter, then working with productions, talent and organizations on their PR and promotions. We’re here to break down the barrier between economic insecurity and the ability to pursue one’s career goals.”

Valdez says she started the foundation because she wants to see New Mexico film and its filmmakers survive.

“Families, young people, midlifers (ready for their second or third act in life), there’s a place for everyone on New Mexico film,” she says.

For nearly a year, the New Mexico Spotlight Foundation has hosted various panels and opportunities for those interested in the film industry.

Recently, the foundation awarded its first $1,000 grant.

Albuquerque-based Balian Pictures LLC was selected for the grant, which will cover film festival entry fees for their New Mexico-made short film “Rex.”

Valdez says the grant will allow the production team to enter the film into as many as 30 national and international festivals throughout the year.

The designation also makes the awardees eligible for further funding to help with travel expenses that may arise from acceptance into select film festivals.

“It’s a hard truth that independent films rarely get the audiences and exposure they aim for – or that they deserve,” says Andy Kastelic, “Rex” director. “Our film’s support from such a dedicated team of film advocates at the New Mexico Spotlight Foundation is a rarity, and as it expands, there’s no doubt that more and more of our homegrown films will be shared across the world. We are honored at the foundation’s acknowledgment of ‘Rex’ and admire its commitment to joining the filmmaker with opportunity.”

Valdez says three more grant packages will be awarded by the foundation in 2018.

The three remaining endowments will be open for submission quarterly, and the foundation will begin accepting entries for the second-quarter award this April, Valdez says.

“We’re also currently working with an emerging filmmaker on a Western trailer,” she says. “We’ve partnered with an established filmmaker (Alejandro Montoya Marin) on his international commercials for a global brand.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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