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Relief aid available for NM film industry workers

Production on the Netflix series “Godless.” (Ursula Coyote/Netflix)

Workers in New Mexico’s film industry are among the many who have been affected by the measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The New Mexico Film Office is directing furloughed workers in the industry to apply directly to nonprofit relief funds for assistance.

“These assistance funds are in place, and we want our industry workforce to be aware of what’s available, and apply if they are eligible,” said Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director.

Earlier this week, Netflix put in $100 million worldwide to assist industry workers during the current health emergency.

Netflix, which has a production hub in Albuquerque, is not only paying its own laid-off cast and crew members, but has pledged $15 million to nonprofit foundations that are opening applications to all film and television workers nationwide.

“The film and television industry is important to diversify New Mexico’s economy,” Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “The state is doing everything we can to find the resources to help these workers.”

New Mexico has thousands of industry workers who might benefit from the assistance as productions have stopped in the state.

There are two major film and television studio partners in Albuquerque: Netflix and NBCUniversal. Both have paused work on television shows to slow the spread of the virus.

“This community has supported Netflix through the good times and we want to help them through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide. So we’ve created a $100 million fund to help with hardship in the creative community,” Netflix said in a news release. “Most of the fund will go toward support for the hardest hit workers on our own productions around the world. We’re in the process of working out exactly what this means, production by production. This is in addition to the two weeks’ pay we’ve already committed to the crew and cast on productions we were forced to suspend last week.”

Netflix has also contributed $1 million each to The Motion Picture and Television Fund, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the Actors Fund. Each is open to New Mexico workers, and has its own review process and application.

The IATSE general executive board has also approved donations.

“The IATSE International general executive board approved the donation of $2.5 million to three charities that support entertainment workers, including the Motion Picture and Television Fund, the Actors Fund and the Actor’s Fund of Canada,” said Liz Pecos, president of IATSE Local 480 in Santa Fe. “These organizations provide support and services for entertainment workers, such as emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health care and insurance counseling, senior care and services, secondary career development and more. The emergency financial assistance offered by these organizations can be of great benefit to local film workers at this time if they qualify.”

SAG-AFTRA Foundation:

The Actors Fund:

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