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

1 comment:

e said...

one more link...
Filmmakers rave about their cozy New Mexico adobe casitas with rustic wooden vigas and latillas, and bittersweet pinon logs crackling in the kiva fireplace -- that is, filmmakers who come to Santa Fe. "Santa Fe is a very comfortable place to make a movie," says Robert Graf, executive producer on Miramax's upcoming "No Country for Old Men." "It has a base of tourism obviously that has contributed to a large stock of rental housing. It's easy to rent a house short-term in Santa Fe, which is a lot more comfortable than staying in a hotel." What follows is a look at some of the best homes-away-from-home for industry denizens staying in the state capital -- with a nod to nearby Albuquerque and Taos, too.