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Duke City ranks No. 8 on MovieMaker list

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman and Michael Mando as Nacho in a scene from “Better Call Saul.” The TV show is based in Albuquerque and filmed in various locations around town. (Courtesy of Lewis Jacobs/AMC)

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman and Michael Mando as Nacho in a scene from “Better Call Saul.” The TV show is based in Albuquerque and filmed in various locations around town. (Courtesy of Lewis Jacobs/AMC)

The Duke City is back.

After a year absence from the top 10 in MovieMaker Magazine’s “best place to live and work” big cities list, the city ranks at No. 8 for 2015.

This is up three places from 2014.

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Since 2007, the city has been ranked in the top 10 and also topped the list in 2010. It also remained in the top three through 2012.

According to MovieMaker, Albuquerque is desirable because it has 310 days of sunshine.

The state’s film incentive program also is a big factor in the ranking.

Currently, productions that qualify in Albuquerque receive 25 to 30 percent credit on all New Mexico goods and services with no minimum spend.

The state also offers a film crew advancement program, or FCAP, providing crew members opportunities to advance to the next level in their departments.

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The state reimburses productions using FCAP a whole 50 percent of the crew member’s salary, in addition to the 25 percent to 30 percent incentives.

According to the Albuquerque Film Office, there has been a 69 percent increase in film permitted days since 2011. This is in part to the office’s one-stop system where representatives from various city departments come together to discuss and sign off on the permits.

Since 2003, the state’s film industry has continued to grow as its crew base got more experience.

“Breaking Bad” is credited for putting the city on the cultural map during the series’ six-year run.

The city has continued to bring in productions and had 15 productions during 2014.

From the “Breaking Bad” sequel “Better Call Saul” to “Blood Father” with Mel Gibson and “Sicario” with Benecio Del Toro, Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin, there have been some high-profile projects in the area.

In fact, the TV series, “The Night Shift,” “The Messengers” and “Dig” have been based in Albuquerque at either Albuquerque Studios or I-25 Studios.

The three series and “Better Call Saul” will overlap each other on air in the next three months, which marks a first for New Mexico productions.

Ann Lerner, Albuquerque’s film liaison, said she’s proud the city is competition especially with the majority of the cities being bigger than Albuquerque.

She said Mayor Richard J. Berry helps keep the city film friendly.

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman  in the upcoming series, “Better Call Saul.” (Courtesy of Lewis Jacobs/AMC)

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman in the upcoming series, “Better Call Saul.” (Courtesy of Lewis Jacobs/AMC)

“Albuquerque is such a unique and versatile location for filmmakers as it offers a variety of landscapes and cultures to capture,” Lerner said.

Aside from the TV and film productions, MovieMaker also pointed out that the city is home to the cult webseries, “Enter the Dojo,” which stars Matt Page.

The show’s YouTube channel has more than 12.3 million views and more than 87,000 subscribers. Page also recently graced the cover of Blackbelt Magazine as the main character Master Ken.

Page is a transplant from Maine and decided to stay in New Mexico after graduating from College of Santa Fe, now Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

“When I graduated, shows like Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight were in production. The Albuquerque Studios had been built; the film incentive program was picking up steam,” he said to the magazine.. “I got a couple lines in a feature, got into SAG and started a small production company. I’ve been working in some realm of the entertainment business ever since I graduated in 2005, and consider myself very lucky. I love it here.”

MovieMaker rated each city according to six criteria: Film Production in 2014 (shooting days, number of productions, dollars generated), Film Community and Culture (film schools, festivals, independent theaters, film organizations), Access to Equipment and Facilities, Tax Incentives, Cost of Living, and a General category that includes lifestyle, weather, transportation and other “livability” categories.

These factors were compiled into a rubric, distributed to film commissions across the country, and the resulting information, along with MovieMaker’s own research and insight from sites like bestplaces.net and filmproductioncapital.com, provided the final results.

Diogo Morgado plays The Man in the upcoming CW drama series “The Messengers.” (Courtesy of The CW)

Diogo Morgado plays The Man in the upcoming CW drama series “The Messengers.” (Courtesy of The CW)

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