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Filming On The Rebound

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The promise of the film industry heating up once producers and directors wrapped their heads around the economy and the new Screen Actors Guild contract are finally coming to fruition.


From Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel Jackson shooting in Santa Fe, to Robert Downey Jr. and “Breaking Bad” at Albuquerque Studios and the second season of “Crash” humming along, the industry looks as healthy as it did in 2008, before the economy tanked.


 On the heels of three new films coming the state, this week another production was announced, the peculiar romance story “The Loop.” The film, according to the Tashtego Films Web site, will begin filming Nov. 2. The film will star “Star Trek” and “G.I. Joe” beauty Rachel Nichols. It’s the directorial debut of actress Margaret Whitton, who played baseball-team owner Rachel Phelps in “Major League.”

 The business is seeing a nice up-tick since this spring, when almost nothing was filming in the state.

 For months the industry had been on hold. When the Screen Actors Guild contract expired in 2008, it took about a year for the union and the producers guild to come to an agreement about what talent should be paid. But, in the meantime, producers didn’t make nearly as many films because getting a SAG waiver was difficult.

 Then, on top of that, several major investors lost their shirts when the economy hit bottom.

 But it looks like the film business is rebounding and returning to pre-crash levels, though not quite like when we had 16 films at once shooting in the state in 2007.

 Last month Jones directed and co-starred in “The Sunset Limited” for HBO in Santa Fe. The film also starred Jackson and is based on the play written by Santa Fe’s Cormac McCarthy. Strangely, though, the play is set on a New York subway platform. Manhattan in the desert?

 The third season of “In Plain Sight” has been ordered and will start filming in January. The show, which stars Mary McCor- mack as a U.S. marshal working for the witness protection program is filmed in and set in Albuquerque. “In Plain Sight” may not get the critical acclaim of shows like “Breaking Bad,” but you get to see a fun romp through Albuquerque and Rio Rancho in almost every episode. Sometimes, though, it seems the Rail Runner gets more screen time than the actors.

 “Breaking Bad,” fresh off winning some more Emmy Awards, is back shooting its next season at Albuquerque Studios. The plot certainly gets tense in season two, but there isn’t an official word on when the new season will air. “Breaking Bad,” though, keeps racking up the awards. This last week it was announced that writer and producer George Mastras has won a PEN USA award for Best Teleplay.

 Then, the vampire flick “Let Me In,” the Megan Fox and Mickey Rourke film “Passion Play,” and the comedy “Due Date,” by the guys from “The Hangover” all were announced recently.

 It looks to be a busy winter for the film business in New Mexico.