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Advocate wants NM film industry to be model for #MeToo

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mandatory satellite phones for sets in remote locations. Harassment reporting information posted on portable bathrooms. Hotline technicians trained in rape crisis counseling.

These are some of the changes Lara Dale wants to adopt to make the state’s film industry a model in the age of the #MeToo movement.

“We could make New Mexico the safest place to work in the country,” said Dale, a Foley sound effects artist and a member of the professional group New Mexico Women in Film. “We can raise the bar for everyone.”

Dale is advocating for statewide protections for those involved in film productions here, beginning with mandating sexual harassment training on New Mexico film sets. She said she began her efforts four months ago as national publications broke several high-profile stories about sexual misconduct in Hollywood.

“New Mexico is on par with everyone else when it comes to (harassment and misconduct),” said Dale. “It’s an ancient paradigm, and it’s present across the board.”

Dale said she’s seen increased interest in her efforts from the state’s film industry in light of the recent lawsuit filed against Jon Hendry, the former president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor and the business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480. Hendry is the subject of a lawsuit alleging harassment and discrimination by a former employee.

She said she has no personal knowledge of the allegations made against Hendry in the suit, but she is familiar with the state’s film industry, which she describes as rife with “predatory behavior.” She alleges that on a film set in New Mexico in the 1980s, she was nearly forced into an explicit sex scene to which she had not consented.

“There are so many people who have said ‘no’ to this type of thing in the industry, and have had kind of menial lives as a result,” she said. When asked by a Journal reporter how comfortable she felt with sharing her experiences with the public, Dale was unequivocal.

“I’m here to give a voice to so many people,” she said. “I am legendary.”