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‘Rattlesnake’ filmmakers taken by New Mexico’s beauty, tax incentives

Carmen Ejogo stars as Katrina in the film “Rattlesnake,” which is streaming on Netflix. (Ursula Coyote/Netflix)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico was always on the radar for Zak Hilditch and Ross Dinerstein.

Which is why the duo brought the project, “Rattlesnake,” to film in the state. Hilditch wrote and directed, while Dinerstein produced the film.

“The tax credit is a major part of a lower budget film,” Dinerstein said. “I knew about New Mexico. I shoot a lot in Canada, and you couldn’t have pulled off this movie anywhere else. It came together very quickly.”

“Rattlesnake” will begin streaming on Netflix on Friday.

The film follows Katrina, played by Carmen Ejogo, who is a single mother driving cross-country to start a new life with her young daughter Clara, played by Apollonia Pratt, when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

As Katrina changes the tire, Clara wanders off the desert road and is bitten by a rattlesnake.

Desperate to save her daughter’s life, Katrina accepts the help of a mysterious woman.

After the woman miraculously heals Clara, Katrina is asked to repay the good deed by killing a stranger in exchange for the life saved.

Without time to lose, she must wrestle with the morality of who deserves to live and who should die, before her daughter’s life is once again put in peril at sundown.

“The idea for the film had lived inside of me for nearly two years,” Hilditch said. “I knew I had to get the script done before my son was born because my mind would be mush by then.”

Hilditch wrote the script in less than two months. By the time it was complete, it had the green light from Netflix, leaving the duo looking at how to translate it to film.

The film shot for 25 days in Santa Fe, Española, Las Vegas, Cochiti and Abiquiú.

Production wrapped in December 2018.

“At our wrap party, a blizzard came through,” said Hilditch.

Dinerstein continues, “Luckily, we had to move the schedule only once for weather. The weather gods were helping us because when it was bad outside, those were the days we had indoor shoots. It worked out perfectly.”

According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production employed 100 New Mexico crew members, 20 New Mexico actors and approximately 100 New Mexico background talent.

Hilditch said there were so many other locations he would have loved to film.

“My first location scout, I was driving shotgun and my mouth was open,” he said. “Ten minutes out of the airport and I began to see these open vistas and ideas were coming to my mind.”

Taken by the state’s beauty and tax incentives, both Hilditch and Dinerstein plan to bring more of their productions to the state.

“The crew in New Mexico are second to none,” Hilditch said. “We couldn’t have gotten luckier with this film.”

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