Monday, April 2, 2007

NM Coverage in the LA Times

Has been really good lately. The most recent article seems to get most of the points we've been pushing for over the past few years.

I'm excerpting liberally below, but you really should check out the whole article:

New Mexico film industry hopes to steal the show
LA Times, 2 April, 2007
by Richard Verrier

"This facility is second to none in the U.S.," said Chief Operating Officer Nick Smerigan, speaking over drilling done by a worker installing a vent. "Eventually, we'll be a first call for people who are leaving L.A."

Thanks to generous financial sweeteners, a fairly mild climate and an aggressive state film office, New Mexico can back up that kind of swagger...

Star Waggons, which leases the trailers that are a signature of film shoots around L.A., is opening an office in Albuquerque. So are equipment supplier Clairmont Camera and payroll servicer Axium International.

In nearby Rio Rancho, Lions Gate Entertainment is gearing up to build a $15-million production center on 20 acres provided by the city, and with the help of a pending $10-million loan from the state...

Since 2004, production has jumped nearly tenfold, generating a financial effect of $428 million last fiscal year, according to the New Mexico Film Office.

"We had a very simple strategy," Gov. Bill Richardson said. "Get ahead of every other state in terms of incentives, throw the kitchen sink at accommodating film companies — tax rebates, loans from the state, free state land, write-offs…. It's created hundreds of jobs."

...New Mexico's film and TV business remains a small fraction of California's, which has an annual estimated value of more than $30 billion statewide...

"When a well-established company like Sony considers relocating or expanding into another area, that's very concerning," said California Film Commission Director Amy Lemisch. "It's a brick-and-mortar kind of business. The absence of financial incentives in California makes it easier for New Mexico and all other regions."

The state also offers an interest-free loan of as much as $15 million a project for productions that are shot primarily in New Mexico, and has launched or funded various training programs to cultivate local filmmakers and expand its crew base.

The program has more than paid its way.

Since 2003, the state has reaped $50 million in tax revenue from the film industry; it has paid out $33 million to finance the rebates and interest-free loans, state officials say. New Mexico ranks among the top five states in filming activity.

"You can't underestimate the power of the incentives," said producer Glenn Williamson, taking a break from shooting the dark comedy "Sunshine Cleaning" in Albuquerque's Nob Hill area. "What you're trying to do is put as much money as possible on the screen."

...Said Mark Manuel, Lions Gate executive vice president: "It's one of the few states that's actually trying to build an industry and not just bring in projects on a one-time basis."

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