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New laws boost film industry in New Mexico

SANTA FE – Two bills signed into law this week by Gov. Susana Martinez flew under the radar during this year’s 60-day legislative session, but could, in different ways, bolster New Mexico’s already booming film industry.

A measure signed Friday by the governor would, among other things, expand the state’s film incentive program to allow qualifying TV pilot episodes to receive additional rebates for filming here.

Television productions qualify for a 30 percent tax rebate if they film at least six episodes. The new law would allow pilots to receive that level of rebate, as well.

For other film productions, the state offers a 25 percent rebate for most direct, in-state expenditures.

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“Our thinking is, if we don’t get the pilot, we don’t get the series,” said Nick Maniatis, the director of the New Mexico Film Office who helped draft the legislation.

Senate Bill 565 will also encourage local hiring by increasing the percentage of crew – not actors – that must reside in New Mexico in order for a production to be eligible for a tax credit.

Meanwhile, separate legislation signed by Martinez earlier this week will allow film companies to assign their tax rebates to banks on a one-time basis in order to get upfront loans.

That measure, House Bill 216, will specifically help local and independent film producers that do not have the budgets of most major Hollywood studios, said Eric Witt, an independent film consultant who directed the film program under former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.

“It’s a help to them, and it’s a help to local banks,” Witt told the Journal.

There is also a $50 million annual cap on state film incentive spending.

Film production has increased in New Mexico over recent years, with 61 registered productions – including movies, TV shows and music videos – filmed in the state during the 2014 budget year. That was up from 28 in 2013 and 55 in 2012.

That trend appears to be continuing, as stars like Tina Fey and Adam Sandler have been in Santa Fe recently to film movies.

Dana Arnold, CEO of Albuquerque Studios, said the new laws will help the state’s local crew base and small businesses.

“These bills make New Mexico even more competitive and attractive for producers, while encouraging producers to hire locally and use New Mexico vendors,” Arnold said in a statement.


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