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Getting in on the act: Program will train New Mexicans for background roles in film industry

Randa Silva holds a clapboard as she participates in a Reel Working America photo petition during the casting call for “The Homesman” in 2013. The New Mexico Film Office has an initiative called The Industry Forum, which trains background workers. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

There are many facets to the film industry.

A major one is background actors.

The New Mexico Film Office is collaborating on a new workforce development program to train New Mexico background workers in the film and television industry.

The program, The Industry Forum, will be free to New Mexico residents.

Those who participate in the program will learn about the film industry and how to be a professional background actor from experts in the industry.

The Industry Forum is a collaboration between Alessi Hartigan Casting, the Background Actors Association of New Mexico (BAANM), and Hartigan Productions with support from the New Mexico Film Office. Program funding to cover participant costs for The Industry Forum is sourced from workforce development training funds.

“As we continue to see an increase in production activity in our state and a demand for an experienced, set-savvy talent pool, it is essential to provide workforce development programs that build our film and television workforce both on and off screen in order to maintain New Mexico’s status as a premier film and television production destination,” said state Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes.

The Industry Forum training program will offer three course levels, from beginner to advanced, and will cover topics such as breaking into background, finding casting calls, submitting for work, getting paid, being a stand-in, being a photo double, driving on set, set etiquette, and safe set practices.

All courses will be virtual but still allow for interfacing with experts including background casting directors. The first class will take place Dec. 5.

“Working as a background actor is an excellent way to break into the film industry, and can either be a career in itself or a gateway to other industry careers,” says Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director. “This training program will help to create awareness and open the door for New Mexicans to break into the film industry, learn how a set works, network, and get an insider’s perspective about the wide array of careers in production. These free classes are taught by industry experts and will give New Mexicans an edge when working in production.”

More information on The Industry Forum program can be found at

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