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Forward focus: NM FIlm Office stays busy as it plans how to safely resume production

During the shutdown, the New Mexico Film Office has taken the steps to carefully reopen for production. At left is the set of “Manhattan.” (Courtesy of WGN America)

The film industry is an economic driver for the state.

During the worldwide production halt since March, the New Mexico State Film Office never stopped working.

The office shifted its priorities during the downtime.

Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director, says the office quickly developed four main focuses.

The first was to create guidelines for resuming production.

“I led a film/TV subcommittee focused solely on this goal – what a safe and strategic resumption of production looks like in New Mexico,” Dodson says. “We had an incredible group of people at the table, including unions and guilds, our film partners, and other experts and representatives from the industry. We created Back2One, the catch-all document for New Mexico film/TV production in a COVID-19 world. It will be a continually evolving resource and we’re very happy with its first iteration.”

The second project was to streamline workflows, systems and processes.

“One example is that the Film Office is making the film incentive registration, processing and tracking more efficient both for our office and the end users – the production companies,” she says. “It’s essential we continue to upgrade and modernize how we do what we do, especially as we look ahead and anticipate a major influx of work and continued growth.”

The Film Office also awarded 20 filmmaker grants through the Sen. John Pinto Memorial Fund.

“Being able to acknowledge and award 20 incredibly talented Native filmmakers, and empower them, thanks to Sen. Shannon Pinto and the late Sen. John Pinto, was a huge bright spot for the film community and New Mexico as a whole during this challenging time in history,” Dodson says. “The timing was fortunate, as we were able to do something positive, in the immediate, to address inequality and empower underrepresented voices.”

Also, the Film Office continues to build relationships with hopes of securing projects when production reopens.

“We’ve had a constant stream of calls, Zooms and ongoing dialogues with studios and production companies, we’ve sent out dozens and dozens of locations packages, and we’ve had so many interesting conversations with production support businesses, postproduction houses, visual effects houses and more,” Dodson says. “Our governor’s leadership has set us apart, and New Mexico is seen as a safe place to be, where the health safety of people is what matters. Health safety is also what matters on set now, more than ever, so we are in a great place, literally and figuratively.”

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