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N.M. Subs For Holy Land

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Harold Ramis set out to make the film “Year One,” he asked some buddies who live in Placitas about New Mexico.

“Our movie is set in the Holy Land,” Ramis said. “I asked my friends who live there if it looks like Israel. ‘Exactly,’ they said.”

So when he started looking for locations in the United States, New Mexico became the place.

“Is it not the Land of Enchantment?” he said. “The fact is, you have a very terrific deal, tax breaks and all, but more than that you have every visual environment you’re looking for.”


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Instead of Israel or the Middle East, the film mostly uses locations in New Mexico, from White Sands to the Sandia Mountains, Truth or Consequences to Elephant Butte State Park.

“When people see the movie, they’re going to think we really went far for this,” Ramis said.

Of course, not all of the movie was filmed here. Early filming was done in Louisiana, which also has an aggressive film incentive program.

In a nutshell, “Year One” follows two slacker prehistoric hunter-gatherers – Zed, played by Jack Black, and Oh, played by Michael Cera – who’ve been kicked out of their village. The world, however, has moved on and the two stumble on the Roman Empire.

“They think their tribe of 60 people are the only ones in the world,” Ramis said. “They cross the mountains – at Sandia Crest – and they discover a whole new world.

“They stumble upon Cain and Abel. They eventually run into Abraham and Isaac. They end up in Sodom. I sort of use it to as a way to tell a story of growing up, a journey of innocence to sophistication,” he said.

Ramis co-wrote and co-produced the film and created the story – and he plays Adam, as in Adam and Eve.

But he’s probably best known for playing Dr. Egon Spengler in the “Ghostbusters” films and as the director of “Groundhog Day.”

Regardless of how many projects he does, though, he’s always asked about “Ghostbusters” and whether there will be a third film.

Though nothing is set in stone, it does look like there’s going to be another “Ghostbusters” film, 25 years after the first was made.

“We have created a new story and people want it,” he said.

But, no matter how many visual environments New Mexico has, “Ghostbusters 3” would have to be filmed in New York City.

“It’s such a New York story,” he said.