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NM Film Office grows from three to five

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut and camera operator Matt Credle film a scene for an episode of "Better Call Saul." (Michele K. Short/Amc/Sony Pictures Television)

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut and camera operator Matt Credle film a scene for an episode of “Better Call Saul.” (Michele K. Short/Amc/Sony Pictures Television)

Film productions and inquiries continue to rise in New Mexico, and the staff at the New Mexico Film Office is expanding to meet the demand.

In the past month, the office has added two full-time employees to its previously three-person staff.

With the coming legislative session around the corner, the Film Office is asking for funding for two more positions, which would bring its total to seven.

“We’ve asked for two positions for the last two years,” said Alicia J. Keyes, state economic development secretary. “It’s not an out-of-the-ordinary ask. … We are restructuring the New Mexico Film Office to better meet the needs of the film and television industry, as well as lawmakers and the public who are asking for better data reporting and more accountability.”

By the end of this year, the Film Office will have overseen about 80 completed productions.

As of Dec. 9, there were 29 projects in production – eight TV shows, nine films, two video games and 10 digital-rich media or interactive advertisements.

Among the productions that have already wrapped are the TV shows “Interrogation,” “Briarpatch” and “Better Call Saul.” Films such as “Army of the Dead,” “Keyhole Garden,” “Silk Road” and “Half Brothers” have also wrapped.

The anticipated positions would also help the Film Office get a handle on the new reporting system, which keeps better track of incentives received by each production.

“The new positions would help in the process of establishing a new way of working,” Keyes said. “Carrie Wells has stepped up and is the deputy director. Rochelle (Bussey) is running programs. They have been carrying the load, along with (Director) Todd (Christensen).”

According to the Film Office, productions are slowing down due to the holiday season, as most productions take a hiatus.

Rosario Dawson as Allegra and Jay Ferguson as Jake in a scene from the coming series "Briarpatch." (John Britt/Usa Network)

Rosario Dawson as Allegra and Jay Ferguson as Jake in a scene from the coming series “Briarpatch.” (John Britt/Usa Network)

Keyes is taking advantage of the slowdown to train employees on the new tracking system.

“The surge has been great, and the Film Office hasn’t missed a beat,” she said. “People have been working long hours. We’re running at capacity, but the new positions will help.”

Keyes said it would be great to get more soundstages in New Mexico.

“It’s an industry problem,” she said. “There’s not enough space. We’d love to have more stages in New Mexico.”

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