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Pace of filming in Albuquerque picking up

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There have been questions about whether there would be a void when production on “Breaking Bad” wrapped up in April.

So far, no worries.

Walter White’s demise notwithstanding, the film industry in Albuquerque is on a roll and the city’s film office has seen an uptick in permits for shooting at various locations around the city.

“We continue to remain busy,” said city film liaison Ann Lerner. “We were surprised at the number of permits we were issuing. Our crews have been busy with other projects since ‘Breaking Bad’ finished up. There hasn’t really been a slowdown with that.”

Last week, the city’s film office processed 23 film permits for various productions, compared with six to 10 in a typical week.

The city has processed 194 permits to date and is on pace to surpass last year’s 222 and finish well above the 185 in 2011.

Currently, there are two TV shows – NBC’s “The Night Shift” and ABC’s “Killer Women” – filming in Albuquerque. Both are mid-season replacements for the networks.

Lerner said many of the crew members from “Breaking Bad” have worked on other projects like “Transendence,” “A Million Ways to Die in the West” or the independent projects that come through town.

One similarity that the two TV shows in production share is that both are set in San Antonio, Texas.

Lerner said while “The Night Shift” filmed its pilot in New Mexico, “Killer Women” moved production from Austin to New Mexico.

“It’s really a coup for us to be able to get these productions,” she said. “We would like to have more and more productions come in.”

In addition to the two TV shows, there are currently five large productions in Albuquerque and numerous smaller ones.

The other productions include: Manis Film’s thriller “Big Sky” starring Kyra Sedgwick and “La Vida Robot,” a film starring comedian George Lopez and actress Jamie Lee Curtis. “The Night Shift” is an ensemble cast and stars Freddy Rodriguez, while “Killer Women” stars Marc Blucas.

Lerner says production on “The Night Shift” has been going steady and crews have built the set at Albuquerque Studios.

She says an episode usually runs about every eight days and sometimes shooting takes place for six straight days.

“It’s amazing to see what our New Mexico crews have built out there,” she said.

Efficient permitting

Permits are required only if a production is impacting city streets or sidewalks. If production is on private property, no permit is needed.

To get a permit, the Albuquerque Film Office gathers representatives from the productions and various city departments to review planned activities in order to minimize the impact on neighborhoods and to ensure that film productions follow applicable regulations.

Lerner says most of the permits are free.

“The only fee comes when it’s nighttime,” she says. “Then there is a $10 fee for the noise ordinance.”

Lerner says “Killer Women” is mostly on location when it comes to filming and said it has 24 location permits from the city.

Lerner says while permits are up, she’s looking forward to seeing even more productions come to Albuquerque.

“It just shows we are a film-friendly city,” she said. “It’s important to keep the film projects moving forward.”

Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry said the film industry has been a consistent bright spot for the city’s economy and the amount of interest is growing, as seen by this uptick in activity.

“We have been able to create a film-friendly environment for productions through an extremely efficient permitting process, supportive citizens, amazing crews, great infrastructure and local businesses ready to support the industry,” he said.