Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tesla in the NY Times

Okay... this one isn't about New Mexico, but David Pogue, technology writer for the New York Times has a nice chat with the creative force behind the Tesla motorcar -- many of which will be built just west of Albuquerque...

Last week in this newsletter, I offered a transcript of an interview with Bob Lutz, the man behind Chevy's electric car, the Volt.

Several of you sent me outraged messages like this one: "How could you profile the Chevy Volt and ignore the Tesla electric roadster? You should stick to reviewing gadgets!"

Continue reading...


Ahem. Had these readers actually watched my "CBS News Sunday Morning" segment online (I posted the link), they'd realize that I actually gave the Tesla star billing. (Here's the link again.)

Nonetheless, here, to even the score, is a transcript excerpt from my Tesla interview, which I conducted with then-chief executive Martin Eberhard at Tesla's headquarters in Silicon Valley. (He's no longer the chief executive, having taken the post of president of technology. He claims he wasn't spending enough time on the engineering stuff he loves.)

In any case, enjoy this transcript, which is much more complete than what we could air on TV. (I'm confident that it will generate outraged reader mail that says, "How could you ignore the Chevy Volt? Do some reporting, you idiot!")

David Pogue: So give me the gist of the Tesla Roadster. Zero to 60 in...?

Martin Eberhard: This is zero to 60 in under four seconds.

DP: And the range of the battery is?

ME: It's over 200 miles. [DP note: This week, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded its testing of the Tesla. Its official measurement: 245 miles per charge.]

DP: And time to recharge the battery?

ME: From empty to full, about three and a half hours.

DP: O.K. And price of the car?

ME: This is a $98,000 base model.

DP: You say that as though, it's, you know, $3 for a gallon of gas. It's--

ME: Well, this is a high-end sports car. At this price, it compares comparably favorably with sports cars that have this kind of performance. It handles like a sports car, and it's quite fast. And I think this is the only sports car anywhere near this price with a carbon-fiber body.

DP: I notice there's no exhaust pipe.

ME: Oh, no. The maintenance for an electric car is much, much less than a gasoline car. There is no smog check. There's no oil changes. There's no oxygen centers and timing belts and filters... all the usual stuff that you have to get maintained regularly on the gasoline car, don't exist for this car.

DP: What's the difference in driving a Tesla compared with a gas car?

ME: You know how it is with an automatic transmission: You step on the gas, and the engine revs up, and you make lots of noise, and then the car gets hot. With this, it's instant response. You step on the gas and the car instantly goes. So it's a much more immediate, fun and sporty feeling than you get with any gasoline car.

DP: What happens if I've paid $100,00 for my car and it breaks down?

ME: Well, you come to us for service.

DP: I fly my car to California?

ME: Well, no, we're testing stores across the country. We'll start off initially here in California and then open up in the Midwest and on the East coast. Through the course of this year and next year, we'll probably have six or seven stores across the country open.

DP: O.K., because, I mean, I know it's not a car for the masses. But I'm thinking that if I get five buddies to go in with me, I might be able to afford one.

ME: Sure.

DP: Tell me about the batteries.

ME: Well, the world of car batteries hasn't moved very quickly. I mean, lead-acid batteries in cars today aren't that different from lead-acid batteries in cars a hundred years ago. There was some experimentation with nickel metal hydride batteries in the early part of this century. But they had drawbacks as well, and they are pretty much not used.

This was my realization that started Tesla Motors: that trying to use the same old batteries that have been used in electric cars over and over again was the wrong approach.

You should look where the battery technology has really advanced, where the pressure has been on to make the batteries last longer and carry more charge, year after year—and that's cellphones and laptops and camcorders. Your [CBS News] camera is running lithium-ion batteries, I'm sure.

[Indicating a huge black box] This is what the battery box looks like if you pulled it out of car. It's about the size of an engine and a gas tank, roughly. And what's exciting here is a system built around standard lithium-ion batteries. If you broke open the battery pack on your laptop computer, you'd find a set of these inside.

DP: How many?

ME: Approximately seven thousand. 6,831 of these.

DP: And the handy thing, I understand, is if your car goes dead, you can stop in at a drugstore and pick up a couple of double A's.

ME: You actually can't get these in a drugstore.

DP: Darn.

ME: Sorry. But the handy thing is that it's a highly redundant system. If one of these fails, the battery pack still works fine. You just lost one out of 6,831. It's a very tiny bit of your energy you've lost.

DP: And where are these batteries manufactured?

ME: Most lithium-ion batteries are manufactured, are made in Asia. There are some made in Europe. There's a teeny, tiny amount made here in the United States, but insignificant.

DP: But if these catch on, aren't we just substituting our dependence on foreign oil from the Middle East for dependence on foreign batteries from Asia?

ME: Maybe that's right, but there is a big difference. Oil comes from the Middle East because that's where it is in the ground. There's nothing inherent in the design of these that says these have to be made in Asia. If we as a nation decided to make energy storage a priority, we could build these batteries here in the United States.

ME: What happens when these batteries reach the end of the life?

ME: These batteries are designed to last 100,000 miles or more. Nearly the life of the car. They can be replaced at the end, and the old batteries are recyclable. We will have arranged recycling long before anybody's battery expires.

DP: Do you have any idea what the cost will be to replace them?

ME: It will be expensive. But then again, if it lasts, you know, 100,000 miles, that's what cars last anyways.

DP: How do you recharge the car? A standard outlet?

ME: You could if you want to, yes, but it's slower. We put a box in your garage when you buy the car, which charges more quickly.

DP: Oh, that comes with the $100,000?

ME: Yeah.

DP: That's handy. Now, you have bigger plans than this one model . . .

ME: Yeah. This is our first car. We come in at the top of the market, changing the way people think about electric cars fundamentally. Electric cars don't have to be goofy little golf carts; they can be something that we all want to own. Maybe we can't all afford one of these things, but we realize that electric cars can be hot cars. O.K.

It allows Tesla Motors to develop the brand, to develop the relationships we need with suppliers, to build and buy things at prices that allow us to make more affordable cars.

With that progress, then we consider the next car. We look for a car that's in the $50,000 range that can seat five adults as our next model. Still kind of expensive, but a step down, for sure, from the $100,000 roadster.

If we pull that off, then the next car should be higher-volume still and lower priced.

It's how you get into the market. If you try to come in from Day 1 and build a car that everyone can afford, it's a recipe for disaster—as all of the electric car companies in the last 30 or 40 years have proven.

DP: What degree of confidence do you have that this master plan is going to work?

ME: Well, I'm highly confident that we'll begin shipping Roadsters this year. [DP note: Last week, Tesla announced that the first Roadsters have been delayed until the first quarter of 2008.]

And I'm very confident that we will be successful selling it, because we've had a huge demand. We've pre-sold 570 cars already.

DP: What were the hard parts?

ME: The battery system was probably the hardest bit. How do you take nearly 7,000 cells and make a battery pack that will last the life of the car, will be safe, that'll be reasonably affordable, but can be mass produced? That required a lot of invention. It's where maybe half our patents are filed.

There are no motors on the market that have the kind of performance we need, either. We had to invent the motor, build the motor, and build a factory to make them.

And carbon fiber is notoriously difficult to build a body out of, because it's hard to get a good, smooth, paintable surface. At the same time, companies like Airbus were absorbing all of the world's capacity of carbon fiber. We had a problem just getting the stuff to build the cars.

You put all of this together, and what makes Tesla Motors difficult isn't any one of these individual things. It's that we have so many things we have to do at once. We're juggling a lot of balls—only they really aren't balls, they're knives and chainsaws and flaming things. And you drop any one them, you got a problem. You catch them wrong, it hurts. (LAUGHTER)

DP: I hear this question a lot: aren't you just shifting the pollution from the individual gas tail pipes to the coal-burning power plants?

ME: Well, of course, not all of electricity is made with coal. It's somewhere around half, and the rest of it is natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar.

But if you do the math, you'll find that an electric car, even if you use coal to make the electricity, produces less pollution per mile than the best gasoline-powered car.

And there's another aspect to this. The oil that we burn in our cars, a large chunk of it comes from the Middle East. And a lot of it comes from places that don't like us so well, either, places that are simply not good for national security, right?

Whereas, even if we're burning coal, where does that coal come from? America. It's our own energy. So from that perspective, even if it's a break-even on pollution, we're better off burning coal than burning oil.

DP: So, the name, Tesla Motors. Didn't Nicola Tesla turn out to be kind of a loony?

ME: He was a bit eccentric, yes. But on the other hand, he invented alternating current, as we use in the electric outlets around the world now. That was his idea.

Also, what we were taught in school is that Marconi invented the radio. But Marconi's patent was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of Tesla, because Tesla beat him to it. So he invented radio, too.

He also invented a remote-control boat in the 1800s, long before transistors.

DP: And, I understand, a carbon-fiber electric car?

ME: Yeah. Right. (LAUGHTER)

NM & Mesa del Sol Make the NY Times

There's a good overview of the Mesa del Sol development plan, focusing on how moviemaking is taking off, the right up in yesterday's New York Times:

Rick Scibelli Jr. for The New York Times
Albuquerque Studios, an anchor at the Mesa del Sol development, has invested $74 million in building six sound stages ranging up to 48,000 square feet, with two more planned. The development, called Mesa del Sol, will be a high-tech economic development center, and it is expected to become the site of 60,000 jobs, 38,000 homes and a town center.

It is being developed by a partnership of Forest City Enterprises, based in Cleveland, and Covington Capital Partners, based in Santa Monica, Calif. (Forest City Ratner, a subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises, is a partner in developing the new headquarters of The New York Times Company.)


The headliner of job creation at Mesa del Sol is Albuquerque Studios, one of the largest media production operations in the United States. Production companies have been lured to New Mexico by an extensive state-financed incentive program, which provides refunds on up to 25 percent of production expenditures subject to taxation, including labor.

The state also offers a zero-interest loan program for up to $15 million and further incentives to hire local people for advanced positions.

“It’s hard to break through the idea that only L.A. people can do this work,” said Lisa Strout, director of the New Mexico film office, a position that is appointed by the governor. But because of the incentive package, she said, New Mexico now has “the largest crew outside of the two coasts.”

Nick Smerigan, chief operating officer of Albuquerque Studios, said the film industry was already in the state before the company arrived. “We did our research and found that people were shooting in New Mexico and Albuquerque because of the incentive package, and because of the quick flight from L.A. and the year-round sunshine,” Mr. Smerigan said. “Our homework told us that there was no infrastructure to support all the shoots already going on.”

To date, Albuquerque Studios has invested $74 million in building six sound stages ranging from 18,000 to 48,000 square feet, with two more in the works. The first production, “In Plain Sight,” a television series that will be broadcast on the USA network, began shooting last month.

All of the completed studios are booked into January, said Mr. Smerigan, who estimated that at full capacity, 2,500 people would be employed by film and television productions and supporting companies.

Sony Pictures Imageworks is one prominent company that has been lured to Mesa del Sol. Mr. Smerigan will oversee the building of a 100,000-square-foot center for the company, which specializes in visual effects and animation and which has worked on the “Spider-Man” films. Initially, Imageworks will employ 100 people, but the center will be designed to accommodate up to 1,000 workers.

The emphasis on job creation at Mesa del Sol can be directly attributed to the development deal itself, which Forest City Covington entered into with the state and the University of New Mexico (which jointly controlled the land). For every phase of construction, there is a job-creation goal, which cannot be met simply by having companies relocate from within Albuquerque. If a goal is not met, tax incentives for the next phase of development do not take effect.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Felon to be filmed in Santa Fe

"Felon" being filmed in Santa Fe
From the New Mexico Business Weekly

Gov. Bill Richardson says another film will begin shooting this fall in the state.

"Felon," a story of a family man convicted of killing an intruder, who must survive the violent penal system, will shoot in and around Santa Fe from October 9 through November 2. The production expects to hire about 60 New Mexico crew members and more than 300 local actors and background talent.

Tucker Tooley, Vincent Newman and Dan Keston will produce and Ric Roman Waugh will direct. The producers are in final negotiations with actors Stephen Dorff, Val Kilmer, Harold Perrineau, Sam Shepard, Marisol Nichols and Ann Archer.

More than 80 feature films and television projects have shot in the state, adding more than $1.2 billion to New Mexico's economy, since Richardson became governor, according to his office.

Imageworks & Trends in Animation Education

Perhaps the best, most comprehensive article I've seen yet on IPAX, Imageworks' Professional Academic Excellence program. Lots of in-depth talk with Sande Scoredos (Executive Director for Training and Artist Development) as well in the latest Animation World Magazine.

Trends in Animation Education/Education for the New Career Reality
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson looks into education trends that are preparing animation students for the new career reality.

An animator is likely to work for many different employers on different projects during his career. Some educational facilities are adapting their programs and curricula to prepare their students to compete in a job market where most jobs are project-based and animators are like migrant workers. Some are starting brand new programs to meet the needs of the students and alumni and industry, preparing their students in unique ways, often soliciting the advice and help of industry. Industry is responding by getting more involved in the training and education of artists and animators. Studios have had in-house training programs before, but now they are going to educational facilities and telling them, "Here's what we need and here's how we can help you so the people you train are people we can use."

On Course with Sony Pictures Imageworks
Sony Pictures Imageworks is home to one of the visual-effects industry's most respected in-house training and artist-development programs, designed to maintain a well-educated and competitive workforce capable of creating world-class imagery and animation. The facility has a dedicated training center integrated with production where instructors train new hires, conduct continuing education for crew members, teach third-party and proprietary software and techniques, provide career development and career path opportunities, and offer special events and screenings. Under the leadership of Sande Scoredos, Executive Director of Training & Artist Development, the program at Imageworks offers over 50 courses, including life drawing, sculpting and acting, as well as specialized task-oriented classes for performance animation, character setup, dynamic simulations and particle effects, color and lighting, compositing, and various production toolsets and methods.

Sony Imageworks has enjoyed a close collaborative relationship with the academic community for 15 years. In 2004 it became even closer, when Imageworks established a faculty-development program designed to help academic institutions respond to the industry's ever-changing needs and keep up to date on the tools and techniques used in real-world production environments.

And lots more at:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Intel to Acquire Havok

Intel To Acquire Havok

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 14, 2007 – Intel Corporation today announced it
has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Havok Inc., the leading
provider of interactive software and services used by digital media
creators in the game and movie industries. Havok will become a wholly owned
subsidiary of Intel.

The acquisition will enable developers in the digital animation and game
communities to take advantage of Intel's innovation and technology
leadership in the creation of digital media.

"Havok is a proven leader in physics technology for gaming and digital
content, and will become a key element of Intel's visual computing and
graphics efforts," said Renee J. James, vice president and general manager
of Intel's Software and Solutions Group. "Havok will operate its business
as usual, which will allow them to continue developing products that are
offered across all platforms in the industry."

Havok's modular suite of software development tools is used by game and
digital animation creators to build realistic video games for all types of
hardware and digitally animated movies. The company's combination of
superior technology and dedication to customers has led to its technology
being used in more than 150 of the world's best-known game titles,
including "BioShock," "Stranglehold," "Halo 2," "Half Life 2," "The Elder
Scrolls IV: Oblivion," "Crackdown," "Lost Planet: Extreme
Condition," "MotorStorm" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
In addition, Havok products have been used to create special effects in
movies such as "Poseidon," "The Matrix," "Troy," "Kingdom of Heaven"
and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

"This is a great fit for Havok products, customers and employees," said
Havok CEO David O'Meara. "Intel's scale of technology investment and
customer reach enable Havok with opportunities to grow more quickly into
new market segments with new products than we could have done organically.
We believe the winning combination is Havok's technology and customer know-
how with Intel's scale. I am excited to be part of this next phase of
Havok's growth."

Havok was founded in 1998 in Dublin, Ireland, and has offices in San
Francisco, San Antonio, Stockholm, Calcutta, Munich and Tokyo. The company
will be a wholly owned Intel subsidiary and continue to operate as an
independent business working with its customers in developing digital media
content. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

About Intel
Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies,
products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live.
Additional information about Intel is available at

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sony moves Digital to Imageworks

Sony moves Digital to Imageworks

From Variety's technology section...
Emmanuelle Borde chosen to overlook project

Sony Pictures Digital has moved the Digital Marketing & Production Group under the Sony Imageworks banner and remonickered the group Imageworks Interactive.

Emmanuelle Borde, who has overseen the group since 2000, has been promoted to senior VP. She will report to Imageworks topper Tim Sarnoff.

Borde had reported to Ira Rubinstein, who will be moving to a new position at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Digital Marketing & Production Group began as Columbia TriStar Interactive in 1992.

The group has developed thousands of websites and digital campaigns for Sony, including its main site,, as well as those for the "Spider-Man" trilogy; toons "Surf's Up" and "Open Season"; and TV shows "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NM Coverage in Hollywood Reporter

Some (more) really nice, very positive coverage in the Hollywood Reporter today with articles on the overall state of production, Albuquerque Studios, and the state's work to encourage 'Green' Filmmaking (and much much more).

Facilities fuel New Mexico production boom
(by Wolf Schneider)

When Paul Haggis began searching for locations to shoot his intense Army drama "In the Valley of Elah," he knew he wanted a place in the South with a 1960s-style motel adjacent to a diner and an Army base nearby -- and, of course, in a state with generous tax incentives. Although he had booked scouting trips to New Mexico, Louisiana and South Carolina, he landed first in Albuquerque and quickly discovered he'd found the perfect spot to begin production.

"Within an hour and a half, I'd locked in four locations! Not found them -- I mean, locked them," Haggis says. "I said, 'It's great. It's perfect. Move on!' So that was just remarkable. I really found a terrific variety of architecture where I thought I'd just find unending adobe."

The Oscar-winning writer-director-producer isn't the only filmmaker who's been lured to the Land of Enchantment recently. Since Gov. Bill Richardson, now a presidential candidate, pushed through an aggressive package of tax rebates and no-interest loans in 2002, New Mexico has become one of the top five filmmaking destinations in the U.S. More than 80 feature film and television projects have been made in the state since then, and annual direct expenditures from film and television production have skyrocketed from $3 million in 2002 to $159 million in 2007. This year alone, the state has attracted more than 30 feature films and television projects.

And it looks as though Hollywood is here to stay. Infrastructure is now solidifying in this artists' mecca of high chaparral and low population density, striated by the southernmost Rocky Mountains. The crew base has deepened to almost 1,500 -- or four to five crews -- with homegrown training programs at schools like the University of New Mexico cranking out a new generation. Sustainability is the strategy now, with three seminal events coalescing in the last year.

(full article at the site)
Albuquerque Studios' soundstages booked solid
The exact day Nick Smerigan knew that Albuquerque Studios would be a success was July 2 of this year. "I was standing on the balcony of my rented townhouse overlooking the golf course at the country club," says the studio's COO. The six-soundstage, $74 million production facility that he'd been building for a year had finally opened on April 9, and he was anticipating a relaxing Fourth of July weekend. Then Jeremy Hariton, executive director of the studios, phoned. "The revelation of 'Omigod, it's really going to work' was when Jeremy called and said, 'Hey, I have all these contracts and deposits. We're totally booked up!'" recalls Smerigan. Turns out the weekend wasn't so relaxing after all, because they had to notify everyone with tentative holds that they were now fully booked. "But look, that's the best sales tool in the world: We have no more room," reasons the exuberant Smerigan.

With four 24,000-square-foot stages and two 18,000-square-foot stages filled, Smerigan is beginning a phase-two expansion with two more stages, 47,000 square feet of offices, 20,000 square feet of retail space and 8,000 square feet of executive bungalows, along with the 100,000-square-foot animation building they're constructing for Sony Imageworks -- all to be finished Labor Day 2008 -- bringing the total cost to $121 million.

(full article at the site)

New Mexico leads enviro-friendly filmmaking
(by Wolf Schneider)
Although the New Mexico desert is a bit brown and dusty, it was the state's green side that really impressed filmmaker Paul Haggis.

New Mexico initiated a green filmmaking program earlier this year in an effort to educate productions about the use of alternative materials and environmentally friendly practices, and Haggis, who was directing Warner Independent Pictures' "In The Valley of Elah," became one of the first filmmakers to put the program into practice.

"We refused to rent, or reimburse anybody for, rental cars that didn't get at least 22 miles per gallon," says Haggis, who drove a small Toyota sedan and often carpooled. Because of Haggis' directive, "the production designer spent three months just trying to find materials that were eco-friendly," Haggis confides. "Every place we went (to shoot), we brought our own bins for recycling, and then we had to have trucks pick the stuff up."

Recalls New Mexico Film Office director Lisa Strout, "We connected them with a company that would pick up lumber so it would be recycled, and they obviously weren't driving around a lot of Escalades with one person in them." She's now taking over where Haggis left off, working to bring in a fleet of Toyota Priuses for production rentals.

Besides suggesting filmmakers lease hybrid or electric vehicles, the state's entirely voluntary green filmmaking program identifies resources for buying nontoxic/low-toxic supplies and paints; E85 and biodiesel for generators; and recycled, nontoxic and unbleached office and cleaning supplies. Information that links reliable eco-vendors and resources is posted on the "green filmmaking" tab on

Thursday, September 13, 2007

NM Charters "Media Arts Collaborative Charter School"

From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
Education: State denies 9 charter requests
One Albuquerque application approved; two S.F. schools among those tossed out

The state Public Education Commission on Wednesday denied all but one application for new state-chartered schools in New Mexico.

Among this year’s applicants were two that would have been located in Santa Fe, the New Mexico School for the Arts and the Multiple Intelligences-Middle College.

The Media Arts Collaborative Charter School in Albuquerque was the only school approved of the 10 schools that submitted applications. “I’m just floored,” said Colleen Gorman, one founder of the school. “I’m just reeling.”

Read more at The Santa Fe New Mexican
From the NM Film Office Website:

State Grants Charter to Albuquerque Media Arts School
Contact: Janet Bridgers, (805) 487-2999;

Santa Fe, September 12 (2007)---The State of New Mexico’s Public Education Commission (NM-PEC) today granted its first charter to the Media Arts Collaborative Charter School (MACCS) in Albuquerque. The charter was granted at a final hearing by PEC held here today, which voted unanimously to approve the charter. The charter school serving grades 9-12 will be open next fall to 125 ninth and tenth graders, offering them a curriculum integrating the state standards required for high school graduation with a wide range of media arts subjects.

MACCS will be the first media arts high school of its kind in the Southwest and one of a select few across the nation. “We’re delighted to be granted the charter and proud that MACCS is the first state-chartered charter school,” said Patti Gladstone, chair of the MACCS’ Interim Governance Council (IGC). “In the next decade,” Gladstone said, “MACCS will offer more than two thousand New Mexico high school students a previously unavailable opportunity to learn state-of-the-art media technology, based in solid language arts and media literacy, in one of four concentration areas— journalism, television/radio, digital film and web design/animation...”

Prior to 2007, all charter schools in New Mexico came under the jurisdiction of a local school district. The NM-PEC began taking applications for state-chartered schools this summer, following passage of SB600 by the State Legislature in 2006

Catherine Keener & Steve Coogan in Albuquerque

Not to be a huge geek or anything... but I'm really excited about this.

Cool, interesting actors, Eric Eisner, what seems like a fun script, jobs... and even a little bit of press over in Manchester

Press release from the NM Film Office runs below...

Governor Bill Richardson Announces Hamlet II to be Filmed in New Mexico
750 Local Principal Actors and Background Talent to be Hired
Contact: New Mexico Film Office (505) 476-5600

SANTA FE—Governor Bill Richardson today announced that the feature film Hamlet II, starring Steve Coogan and Catherine Keener, will be shot in New Mexico.

The film will be shot in and around Albuquerque from September 17 through October 28 and expects to hire approximately 80 New Mexico crew members and 750 local principal actors and background talent.

Eric Eisner and Aaron Ryder will produce. Directing will be Andy Fleming who also co-wrote the screenplay with Pam Brady.

Hamlet II is an irreverent comedy. It tells the story of a very idiosyncratic Drama teacher, Dana Marszh, in a typical Southwestern high school who commits himself to writing a sequel to ‘Hamlet’ by Shakespeare. Buoyed by his students, he prevails and the play becomes a significant cultural moment and an emotional turning point for everyone involved.

“Steve Coogan is simply one of the most talented comedians there is. Andy and Pam wrote a very smart and engaging script and I’m excited to work with such an experienced team,” said Eisner.

Since Richardson took office, over 80 feature film and television projects have shot in the state, adding over $1.2 billion dollars to New Mexico’s economy.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Charlize Theron & Catherine Keener

Are among the small horde of great actors who'll be working in New Mexico these next few weeks.

Catherine Keener and Steve Coogan to Shoot Hamlet 2 in New Mexico
Eric Eisner, the son of Disney magnate Michael Eisner… is stepping up his involvement in the movie business.

Variety report that he has just launched a new production shingle titled L & E Productions and has quickly started work on Hamlet 2, a movie revolving around a drama teacher who decides to write a sequel to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet to save his school play.

Steve Coogan and Catherine Keener have both singed on the movie, the former likely to be the teacher. Nancy Drew director Andrew Fleming will helm from a script he co-wrote with Team America co-scribe Pam Brady with shooting set to begin on Sept. 17th in New Mexico.

Hamlet 2 will be one of three movies the production company want to make every year, budgeted at around the $5-25 million range. This movie is set to be budgeted at around the $10 million mark.

Charlize Theron Returns to NM for Third Film

Charlize Theron is returning to the state to film "The Burning Plain," according to Gov. Bill Richardson's office.

Theron has starred in two previous films here: "North Country," for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, and "In the Valley of Elah," due for release in September.

The film will shoot in and around Las Cruces from November 5 through December 21 and expects to hire about 75 New Mexico crew members and 800 local principal actors and background talent.

The film explores the mysterious connection among several characters, including a teenager in Mexico, a woman in Oregon who undergoes an emotional odyssey, a pair of secret lovers and a young girl helping her parents find redemption.

And... lots of other good info in this article

Monday, September 3, 2007

Gronk's BrainFlame LA Premiere

Nice write-up in the LA Times on "Gronk's BrainFlame," the animated full-dome piece that grew out of LA-based artist Gronk's work with UNM's Arts Technology Center (precursor to the ARTS Lab). Imagined by Gronk, animated by our own Hue Walker

"Welcome into Gronk's brain and to a powerful new artist medium," states the promotional material for an unusual, 14-minute animated short film that makes its West Coast debut next Saturday at the Glendale Community College planetarium.

"Gronk's BrainFlame" visualizes the creative process at a cellular level by entering the mind of the artist at the moment ideas are born. Gronk, known for his dramatic installations and performance pieces, took two years to develop the digital project, considered a cutting-edge experiment in the melding of art, science and technology.

Using 180-degree projection, viewers are drawn into an animated, otherworldly landscape with sprouting pod-like forms and faceless, alien-like figures that move about under a canopy composed of squiggly lines and ambiguous shapes instead of stars and planets.

"I always thought that a living culture is one that experiments and tries new things," he [Gronk] told me. "A dead culture is one that stays the same. I'd rather be part of a living culture that always has something new for people to view."

West Coast premiere of "Gronk's BrainFlame," next Saturday [9/8] at Glendale Community College, Planetarium and Science Center, 1500 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale. Screenings at 2, 2:30, 3 and 3:30 p.m. Art exhibit and book signing by the artist, 2-4:30 p.m., with a reception catered by Casablanca Mexican restaurant. Screening ticket reservations required; RSVP by Thursday to Bryan Robinson at (310) 825-7716 or brobinson@

Read the story at:,1,887848.story