Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Mexico in the News, part 329: Daily Variety

Another spate of stories about New Mexico in the news this week -- led by the coverage in Daily Variety. New Mexico is often a key part of the story when other states talk about developing incentives or other mechanisms to grow their share of income from movies and games, and the coverage of Albuquerque Studios and the Imageworks announcement has been solid in LA and elsewhere.

Prominent features in Forbes and Moviemaker magazine have also been very nice.

What does all this coverage mean?

I may be thinking too much about sales these days, but one reason this coverage (nearly all positive) has been great is the way it positions NM in the minds of our potential customers and collaborators. When these folks 'know' that New Mexico is a place where these moviemaking and other creative work happens, it makes selling the individual product or project that much easier.

Not all of us are sales people, I know, but in a world where people google eachother as a standard step in starting to do business, all the other association and keywords you might have can make a difference. And even if you're not really a sales person, being able to refer the people you talk with to a 3rd party source that helps make your case is invaluable.

And... maybe it's a Sun Tzu thing, but knowing what the people you do business with are reading and thinking about can be helpful.

All that said... there are several New Mexico write-ups in last Monday's Variety. Here's a run-down with links:

New Mexico ramps up film training programs
Article on building New Mexico's film crews and educating homegrown filmmakers through program's like the College of Santa Fe's "New Mexico Filmmakers Intensive."

As the New Mexico film industry grows, so does demand for experienced local crews.

To help bring the industry up to speed quickly, the state hatched the Film Technicians Training Program (FTTP), which operates through New Mexico's community college network to train people in below-the-line basics.

FTTP has already seen more than 350 students pass through and find work.

"One of the things we didn't see coming was people waking up at 35 and saying, 'I didn't plan to be an accountant at a bank, I've always wanted to be in the movies,'" says Jon Hendry, business agent for IATSE Local 480. Of those who enroll, 60 to 70% are nontraditional students, Hendry estimates. "They make particularly good film technicians."

FTTP was established at the same time as the state's Film Crew Advancement Program, which includes a 50% reimbursement of hourly wages for local crew hires who receive on-the-job training.

"The key to our program," Hendry says, "is it allows a seamless progression from the FTTP classroom environment to the crew advancement program for those (who have) little experience but enthusiasm to learn."

The state is now able to crew up to half a dozen projects, up from two or three previously.

More here.

Imageworks eyes New Mexico's talent
Article on the Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence (IPAX) Program and UNM's role in the future production facility.

Aggressive incentives and state-of-the-art studio space may have lured Sony Pictures Imageworks to New Mexico, but the promise of tapping a homegrown talent pool certainly sweetened the deal.

Sande Scoredos, executive director of training and artist development for Imageworks, saw an incredible opportunity in the U. of New Mexico, located just a few miles from the company's future Albuquerque Studios hub, a planned three-story facility scheduled to open in spring 2008.

"Seeing where the good students were coming from, we were seeing a trend," she says. "You need to work with the faculty."

So Sony developed a unique Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence (IPAX) program, a network of 11 universities and specialty schools for animation and visual effects. And U. of New Mexico is the latest partner.

As IPAX chair, Scoredos envisions the program as a win-win for Imageworks and the schools.

"We're not going in saying, 'Here's what you need to do,'" she explains. Instead, by offering faculty development, inhouse training and curriculum review, Imageworks ensures that participating institutions are up to speed with cutting-edge digital effects techniques. In return, the schools equip students with the practical skills Imageworks seeks in future hires, with Sony often scooping up the top grads.

More here.

Stars converge over New Mexico
Overview of a few of the stars who've chosen homes in New Mexico and why they're here...

Art, food, music, UFOs -- four good reasons why many in Hollywood, from stars to supporting players, have left the craziness of the coast for the zenlike calm of Santa Fe, Taos, Las Cruces or Albuquerque.

New Mexico has lured artists of every kind for years -- in terms of sales, the art market in Santa Fe is second only to New York -- and has produced an iconic cuisine and iconic art. The state has long provided a refuge for creative types, and for some Hollywood players, it's a place to take a break from the biz without fear of paparazzi.

But what is it that draws successful showbiz folks to the Southwest?

"It's a place that not only sparks and feeds your imagination, but everything that you imagine becomes real," says resident and state champion Shirley MacLaine. "On any given little mountaintop, if you like to hike, you can scoop up a handful of crystals and start a shop.

"You have art, culture, literature, (diverse) intersections of people ... and that provides a really rich cultural background against which you can know yourself better."

Gene Hackman, Julia Roberts, Patrick Swayze and Alan Arkin also call New Mexico home (March 15 was declared "Alan Arkin Day" in the state). Even D.H. Lawrence spent a couple years outside Taos in the 1920s and planned on returning but died of tuberculosis before he realized those plans.

More here.

And finally, a quick wrap-up of recent productions in New Mexico
New Mexico on Film
A look at recent productions filmed in the state

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