Saturday, April 5, 2008

NM in the News: LA Times coverage

Nothing really new, but I like it when LA reporters visit and say good things about us.

New Mexico Works for its 'Tamalewood' Title

from the LA Times

OHKAY OWINGEH, N.M. -- Aspiring screenwriters David and Kevin Linke don't have to go to Hollywood to try to break into the business. It came to them.

"Here, if you want to get on a movie set, you can," said David, 20, fresh off four days' work as an extra on "Love Ranch," with Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci.

The Los Alamos twins -- who have written 11 screenplays -- are working on every set that will have them. One of these days, they figure, a producer might just head home with one of their scripts tucked under his arm.

New Mexico, whose screen fortunes once rose and fell with the popularity of westerns, has become a film mecca.

"Tamalewood," it has been dubbed.

Over the last five years, 90 major feature film and TV projects have been made here.

Best-picture Oscar winner "No Country for Old Men" -- based on the novel by Santa Fe, N.M., resident Cormac McCarthy -- was shot almost entirely in New Mexico. Three other films made here -- "3:10 to Yuma," "In the Valley of Elah" and "Transformers" -- also nabbed Academy Award nominations.

"Now people know that you can make whatever kind of film you want here," said Eric Witt, Gov. Bill Richardson's film and entertainment advisor.

New Mexico has maneuvered itself from what the industry refers to as a "distant location" to a soup-to-nuts production center, says Lisa Strout, director of the state film office.


And if there's trouble brewing on the set or high-paid hands to be held, studio executives can arrive quickly. Los Angeles is a two-hour plane flight away.

The Linke brothers were part of a steady trickle of eager extras who showed up recently at an Indian casino north of Santa Fe to sign up for "The Year One," a Judd Apatow-produced comedy set in biblical times.


"The Year One" has been shot largely in Louisiana, but publicist Kym Langlie said New Mexico was chosen for some scenes because of its "unspoiled landscapes and vistas" that evoke ancient times. No pesky power lines, in other words.

Also currently in production is "Legion," a supernatural action-thriller starring Paul Bettany. And filming starts soon for the largest production to date: the latest installment of the "Terminator" film franchise, with Christian Bale. Production will be based at Albuquerque Studios.

Jon Hendry, business agent for Local 480 of the film technicians union, estimates that 2,800 New Mexicans are working at least some of the time in the industry, largely in technical positions.

"We're the only state . . . that has a really aggressive training program for their own people," Hendry said.

Incentives, landscapes and trained crew... we need to keep all those in mind.

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