Santa Fe at No. 3 in MovieMaker list for small cities

Behind the scenes look at “Godless,” which filmed in Santa Fe. (Ursula Coyote/Netflix)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Santa Fe remains a top location for film.

That’s according to the latest ranking by MovieMaker.

The trade publication released its ranking for the best small cities to live and work as a movie maker.

The City Different holds onto its ranking at No. 3 for a second year. Savannah, Ga. and New Orleans are ranked ahead of Santa Fe. Rounding out the top five are Pittsburgh, Pa. and Cincinnati, Ohio.

“We’ve been in the top three for four years in a row now,” said Eric Witt, executive director of the Santa Fe Film Office. “Between us and Albuquerque getting No. 1, it just validates New Mexico’s place as a leader in the industry.”

On Wednesday, MovieMaker ranked Albuquerque at No. 1 for big cities. Productions often share both Albuquerque and Santa Fe locations when filming in New Mexico.

New Mexico offers a 25 percent tax rebate to film companies for most direct, in-state expenditures, although long-running television programs are eligible for an additional 5 percent – or 30 percent in all. There is also a $50 million annual cap on what is paid out.

The high-ranking listings come as New Mexico lawmakers are debating whether to raise or lift the cap completely. It is estimated that there will be a $250 million backlog in unpaid rebate money by the end of this fiscal year, on June 30.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says lifting the cap would bring more film business, while many lawmakers wonder whether that’s fiscally responsible.

“I hope the Legislature takes into account that this is a proven industry in the state,” Witt said. “In conjunction with Albuquerque, it really shows that New Mexico is first and foremost on the industry’s mind when they are looking to find a home for a production.”

The list is compiled by looking at each city’s film activity — which means number of productions, economic activity generated and shoot durations.

It also looks at infrastructure, which includes health of film commissions and non-profits, number of film schools and visual effects houses.

Lastly, the population and geographical size, as well as the state and local film incentive programs and ease of movement and traffic were considered.

According to MovieMaker, the multiple Emmy wins for Netflix’s “Godless” will only “bolster Santa Fe’s reputation as a go-to locale for thinking Westerns.”

“Hostiles” and the Coen brothers Western anthology, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” were also highlighted in the article.

Witt said production remains high in Santa Fe.

“Everybody is looking to see if ‘Roswell’ will get a second season,” he said. “Netflix’s ‘Rattlesnake’ wrapped up. Just yesterday we had a show called ‘Bite Club’ filming an episode here. There was a German documentary team shooting at the Plaza. We’re busy and people love being here.”

The article also mentions cultural destinations such as the Santa Fe Opera and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, which are matched by the natural architectural beauty of places like Taos Pueblo, a Native American settlement at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains established 1,000 years ago.

“You can also visit the San Geronimo Chapel, built in 1619 and destroyed during the Mexican-American War. Perhaps the biggest wonder about Santa Fe is that a cultural treasure like this has a population of only 83,000 souls,” the article stated.

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