Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Alamogordo Production News

The Daily News
By Kandra Wells, News Editor

An Alamogordo High School graduate presented his plans Monday evening to build a film sound studio and post-production facility on the southeast side of the city to a group of neighbors, including several who are opposed to the project.

Scott Hester, of Marble Canyon Studios, has asked the city to rezone land he plans to buy from residential zoning to light industrial. The 11.6 acre tract is near 2500 First St. Hester plans to build a single story office building and sound studio, along with outdoor Western sets.

About 40 people attended the meeting, held at City Hall, including commissioners Steve Brockett and Ed Cole, in whose district the property is located. The rezoning request will be fully heard Wednesday at the city's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, and the city has already received eight official protests to the rezoning.

That meeting, set for 1:30 p.m. in the commission board room at City Hall, is also open to the public.

"This is not a flashy company trying to come into Alamogordo," Hester told the group. "My goal is to keep the family-friendly films within the community that is family-friendly."

According to Hester, Marble Canyon Studio primarily works on commercials and independent films, andmost of the work is post-production editing. For instance, he said plans are under way to work with a news organization in Santa Fe for a weekly news program. Post-production work for the show could be done at the Alamogordo studio, he said. He also cited editing on a low-budget $300,000 film being produced by a Chicago outfit, all of which would be done indoors.

"Eighty percent of the work would be done on computers, in the studio," he said, adding that the land parcel is also an ideal place for shots of the Sacramento Escarpment to the east. "A Western film is going to be ideal for Alamogordo."

Hester, who was accompanied at the meeting by Eddie Rio, producer and photography director of Rio Ltd. Company in Santa Fe, said the Alamogordo land is among several sites the company is looking at to build sets and studios.

Presently, he said up to 90 percent of film production in New Mexico is done at Santa Fe, and his studio would offer another option.

"Our intent is to blend in to Alamogordo, to give people a reason to stay in Alamogordo," he said, citing the exodus of high school students from the area after graduation.

Hester said the company could employ up to 11 people, mostly editors and possibly some graphic designers.

"We want to work with local people and develop local staff," he said.

He also said the company would help bring more tax dollars to the city, citing opportunities for film industry workers who already visit the city for the annual White Sands Film Festival.

"It's hard to walk into a city with limited production resources," said Hester, who worked on the initial festival. "I want to provide production resources."

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