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Exploring N.M. Film Industry

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Six years ago, filmmaking in Los Angeles started lagging. So filmmaker Brent Morris followed the film industry to the Land of Enchantment.

This was a move that he doesn’t regret.

“I think New Mexico has some of the best film crews here, and it’s a pleasure to work with them,” he said during a recent interview. “The film community here is so strong, and I moved here for the film incentives.”

If you go
WHAT: “Made in New Mexico”
WHEN: 4 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: CCA’s Cinematheque, 1050 Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe
HOW MUCH: Free

Moving to New Mexico has been a blessing for Morris, who usually works as a line producer for movies. He’s worked on New Mexico-made films such as “Sunshine Cleaning,” “Beer For My Horses,” “Goats,” “Just Like Woman” and “Jackie.” He also directed the documentary “Flamenco School” in 2010.

“This is my bread and butter,” he said. “I’ve been very lucky, and I want to see the industry continue.”

With that in mind, Morris teamed up with David Jean Schweitzer for the documentary “Made in New Mexico.” It sheds light on many factors that make the state one of the premiere places to shoot motion pictures, television series and digital media. The film includes a brief history of filmmaking and a discussion about staying competitive in the industry. It also explores the state’s incentive programs.

“It’s not intended to be a political documentary, but you can’t talk about New Mexico film without mentioning the incentives,” he said. “This is more for educational purposes.”

New Mexico’s film incentive program offers a 25 percent rebate to film companies for most direct, in-state expenditures. Under changes approved last year, those rebates can be paid out over a period of three years, and there is a $50 million cap on yearly rebate spending for film and TV productions.

But with the battle in the Legislature last year over the incentives and Democrats wanting to remove the $50 million cap on yearly rebate spending for film and TV productions in this year’s session, Morris felt it was time to screen the film to a bigger audience.

“The film aims to educate and celebrate a healthy film and media industry,” he said. “It’s a perfect example of how the industry impacts jobs in New Mexico.”

The film was shot and edited over two years and was financed through Kickstarter, an online threshold pledge system for funding projects.

Morris said the film features producers Stewart Lyons from “Breaking Bad”; Tony Mark from “The Hurt Locker”; Kenneth Topolsky from “The Wonder Years” and Alton Walpole from “The Book of Eli.” Studio managers from I-25 Studios, Santa Fe Studios and Albuquerque Studios were also interviewed.

Morris said when it came down to editing the documentary, it was about finding the moments that touch an audience.

“We wanted to craft a complete story that resonated with the audience,” he said. “It was important to tell a captivating story while showcasing the economic impact that the film industry has in the state – especially small towns.”

“Made in New Mexico” will screen at 4 p.m. Wednesday at CCA’s Cinematheque, 1050 Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe. It will be part of the annual Media Day at the State Capitol.

Additional screenings include:

• 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at Film Las Cruces/Rio Grande Theatre.

•  4 p.m. Feb. 10 at UNM’s Valencia Campus FilmFest in Los Lunas.

•  7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Taos Community Auditorium.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter at @agomezART.

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