New Mexico film industry brings in record $855.4M - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico film industry brings in record $855.4M

Eugene Brave Rock, left, and Jeremiah Bitsui film on location for “Dark Winds.” (Michael Moriatis/Stalwart Productions/AMC)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico film industry has set another record.

The state announced that the industry brought in $855.4 million in direct spend for fiscal year 2022, which is an increase of $228.9 million over fiscal year 2021.

“Another record year for film and television industry spending makes it as clear as ever that New Mexico is the place to be for film and TV,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

New Mexico’s film incentives continue to be a gold standard in the industry.

Tax incentives include a 25% to 35% production tax credit for film, TV, commercials, documentaries, music videos, video games, animation, postproduction and more.

The state’s rural communities saw a 660% increase in direct spending from the industry – up from $6.5 million in FY21 to nearly $50 million in FY22.

The game changer in the increase is the rural uplift credit, which gives a production a 5% incentive to film at least 60 miles outside of the Bernalillo and Santa Fe county corridor. This went into effect in 2019.

Productions such as the TV series “Outer Range” and “Dark Winds,” as well as the films “Hot Seat” and “Chupa” are a few that qualified for the rural uplift credit, as they filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation and Las Cruces, respectively.

Las Cruces has seen a major bump in productions due to the rural uplift credit. From July 2021 through May 2022, the area had 23 projects in the Las Cruces area with a direct spend of $7.9 million into the local economy. In the previous fiscal year, there were nine productions. The number of productions matches the high of FY19 for the Las Cruces area.

“The additional 5% bump from the rural uplift credit has been an integral component to attracting productions to the Las Cruces area and has become a staple in our marketing efforts,” said Jonathon Sepp, film liaison with Film Las Cruces. “With the success of the rural uplift, Film Las Cruces has been able to attract more productions to our region than ever before.”

James Cullen Bressack, director of “Hot Seat,” said once he was on board for the project, he knew it had to be filmed in New Mexico. The production chose Las Cruces to do the film.

“New Mexico was always the plan from the beginning,” Bressack said. “I was excited to film out there because I wanted it to be anywhere in America. New Mexico lent itself to it perfectly.”

According to the state, the most recent data also shows a record number of industry worker hours in New Mexico, a 22% increase from FY21 and a new high of 109 for total productions filmed in the state – 55 film and 54 television.

From left, Sam Asghari as Sergeant Tobias, Eddie Steeples as Jackson, and director James Cullen Bressack behind the scenes of “Hot Seat.” (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

On Thursday, the state released the names of only 55 productions to the Journal, saying the rest hadn’t been announced.

For the better part of a decade, Albuquerque and Santa Fe have consistently been named by MovieMaker as top cities for film professionals to live and work. Albuquerque has held the No. 1 ranking for big cities for four consecutive years. Santa Fe has been in the top 5 for small cities and towns since the list began nearly a decade ago.

“New Mexico is now front and center for film and television production and that means jobs, private sector investment, job training, and economic growth for communities and small businesses across the entire state,” said Alicia J. Keyes, Economic Development Department secretary.

In 2019, Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 2, which gave incentives to companies to collaborate with the state through partnership agreements. Currently, Netflix and NBCUniversal are two of the biggest partnerships with a 10-year plan.

The companies work with the state to develop and strengthen workforce development and job training.

Since the measure’s enactment, Netflix announced a 300-acre expansion in the state with a commitment to spend another $1 billion over 10 years, doubling the company’s original commitment to the state.

NBCUniversal also opened a production facility in Albuquerque with a commitment to $500 million in direct production spending over the next 10 years and 330 full-time-equivalent jobs.

The 2019 bill also raised a 2011 cap on what the state can pay out to film and TV productions from $50 million to $110 million per year, while also authorizing the spending of up to $225 million to pay down an accumulated backlog in film incentives.

According to the New Mexico Department of Tax and Revenue, of the $100 million cap, the state has paid out $47.1 million.

Both Netflix and NBCUniversal’s spending is not subject to the film cap.

An additional $13.3 million has been claimed and paid out for FY22.

Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director, said with the number of successful shows and films, the state has established itself as being film friendly and a place for skilled crews.

“The Film Office continues to tout New Mexico, not only as a diverse and forward-thinking state, but a place where memorable, award-winning productions can call home over many seasons,” Dodson said.

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