Senate Bill 12 aims to expand film incentive package - Albuquerque Journal

Senate Bill 12 aims to expand film incentive package

From left, Kiowa Gordon as Jim Chee, Jessica Matten as Sgt. Bernadette Manuelito and director Chris Eyre filming on the set of “Dark Winds.” Senate Bill 12 would expand the rural uplift credit to 10%. (Michael Moriatis/Stalwart Productions/AMC)

A proposed bill will help continue growth of state film jobs and workforce training.

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 12 was introduced by Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, which will ensure that New Mexico cements its status as home for film and television production. The bill overhauls the existing film incentive program which currently includes a 25% to 35% production tax credit for film, TV, commercials, documentaries, music videos, video games, animation and postproduction. It also has a cap on what the state can pay out to film and TV productions from $50 million to $110 million per year.

In the last year, the state’s rural communities saw a 660% increase in direct spending from the industry, due to the rural uplift credit, which took effect in 2019 and gives a production a 5% incentive to film at least 60 miles outside of the Bernalillo and Santa Fe county corridor.

The proposed legislation will also include a phased increase to the yearly cap on film credit rebates of an additional $10 million per fiscal year, bringing the total yearly cap from $110 to $210 million over the next decade.

According to the bill, the addition to the cap will adjust for steady growth and inflation in order to prevent a backlog that would begin to accrue in fiscal year 2025, ensuring New Mexico can continue to attract larger-scale productions that employ New Mexico cast and crew members.

The bill also doubles the uplift for productions outside the Albuquerque-Santa Fe county corridor to 10%.

“We have seen the economic benefit our current film incentive has had on our state, and now it’s time to make the bill even stronger, helping to grow New Mexico’s digital media ecosystem — and that includes high-paying jobs, business growth, and top-tier workforce development,” said Sen. Rodriguez.

New Mexico is once again coming off a record-breaking year in the film industry, which includes $855.4 million in the 2022 budget year.

Last month, MovieMaker named three New Mexico cities — Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe — as part of their lists for the best place to live and work as a filmmaker.

In the last five years, New Mexico entered into agreements with its film partners Netflix, NBCUniversal and 828 Productions. The three entities have committed to at least a decade of being in New Mexico and bringing productions to the state and investing millions.

“With our Film Partner Program and the announcement of the New Mexico Media Academy last legislative session, we have significant momentum and now must shore up this industry and secure opportunities for the crew, their families, and the small businesses that have helped it flourish,” said Alicia J. Keyes, Cabinet Secretary of New Mexico Economic Department.

While the rural uplift credit has been the shining star within the state’s film incentive package, the proposed legislation further encourages productions to cast more resident actors and principal performers in leading roles by excluding residents from the existing $5 million performers credit cap.

Currently, both resident and non-resident principal performers credits are capped at $5 million per production. The bill maintains existing language that resident crew, and other resident above-the-line talent, including directors and producers, are eligible for the incentive, which drives local hiring.

In order to ensure that New Mexico can be home to the most lucrative productions, the legislation would also increase the maximum above-the-line incentive for official state film partners to $15 million per production.

“New Mexico is a national leader in the film and media space, and we want to ensure New Mexicans can be a part of this exciting industry for years to come,” said Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director. “Optimizing the film legislation will drive this growth and expand the landscape for our local workforce, ensuring their economic security well into the next decade.”

The film industry supports some 8,000 jobs in New Mexico and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been a strong advocate for the industry.

“New Mexico is truly the Hollywood of the Southwest, with an industry that provides thousands of high-wage jobs in a resilient, growing, and global industry that brings hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy every year,” said Lujan Grisham in a statement. “Our film incentive is a cornerstone to New Mexico’s status as a premier production hub – this legislation will ensure that the successful industry we’ve built remains in place for years to come, providing economic growth and rewarding careers for future generations of New Mexicans.”

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