Gov. pledges $1.1M for film school, studio in Raton - Albuquerque Journal

Gov. pledges $1.1M for film school, studio in Raton

Michael Mando as Nacho Varga, Steven Bauer as Don Eladio in a scene from the fifth season of “Better Call Saul.” The NM film industry continues to grow with a new venture in Raton. (Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

The film industry continues to grow in New Mexico.

It’s always been a goal to have film facilities in every point of the state.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pledged $1.1 million in capital outlay to support a film and media school and studio in Raton.

During last fiscal year, the state saw the number of productions filming in rural New Mexico increase by 660%, which brought in $50 million direct spend from the industry. The industry brought in $855.4 million in direct spend for fiscal year 2022.

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.

The City of Raton, in partnership with the nonprofit El Raton Media Works, is planning renovations of the old Kearny Elementary School to create the Kearny Film Studio and Education Center.

The center is expected to launch its first training courses in summer 2023, followed by a professional soundstage and XR (Extended Reality) studio in winter 2025.

“I commend Raton leadership for their vision for this center, which will provide training to New Mexicans in this successful and innovative industry, as well as additional capacity for filmmaking in northern New Mexico,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “That means more high-paying jobs, more economic development and more money spent in the community of Raton.”

The City of Raton and El Raton Media Works plans to partner with Santa Fe Community College to teach film/media curriculum. Santa Fe Community College is a partner of the New Mexico Media Academy, announced by the governor this spring as the Next Generation Media Academy.

“Raton is reinventing itself as a hub for the film and industry, and projects like these will propel us into the future,” said Raton Mayor Neil Segotta Jr.

According to Lujan Grisham, the Kearny Film School is an exciting initiative that will further establish and enhance New Mexico’s already impactful film industry and broaden workforce training opportunities for New Mexicans.

“We are very excited to be working with the City of Raton to open this XR soundstage and media training facility and hope to bring economic and workforce development to this northern New Mexico region,” said Ann Theis, Film Liaison for the City of Raton. “This industry doesn’t just bring in one type of job, it brings in every type of job from restaurants to lodging, craftsman culinary arts and more. We hope to bring those skills and jobs to Raton and the surrounding area.”

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