Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Update from Zane's World -- and the "t" word

There's a nice update at Zane's World in the Santa Fe Reporter today, remarking on film industry growth, and what sets NM apart from other states working on getting a piece of the production pie. But... one comment: if we want people to stop using the "t" word, we actually have to stop using it ourselves.
Tamalewood Works

...The city and Santa Fe Community College continue to do good work with certificate programs for sustainable energy industries, but the real standout is the New Mexico Film Office. The oldest such state office in the country, NMFO is celebrating its 40th anniversary this summer. It also happens to be the 20th anniversary for the IATSE Local 480 union for New Mexico-based film and television workers. Add the Screen Actors Guild’s 75th and, well, you know there’s gonna be a party somewhere. But it’s what the NMFO has done since the implementation of New Mexico’s famous (and occasionally maligned) incentive program to lure film production that is genuinely impressive.

Productions are incentivized to hire locals, which requires training. Since mid-2003, 66 projects have participated and 710 people have participated in the Film Crew Advancement Program. This includes individuals who may have returned for the training necessary to advance their skill set and vie for higher paying and more challenging jobs. Four years ago, 150 people worked in the film industry in New Mexico. Now, including SAG members and film-support businesses, that figure is closer to 3,000.

With the advent of Albuquerque Studios and the impending studio project in Santa Fe County, one aspect of making that workforce expandable and sustainable is provided. The other big push to keep the film industry growing here is workforce. For NMFO, the next big strategy is mentorship, for both technical and creative jobs. There are already several programs to reward creative potential, including the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase and the Governor’s Cup Awards. But placing aspiring filmmakers, storyboard illustrators, costumers, camera operators, etc., in working productions among experienced professionals is the goal.

No one knows yet if it will prove to be a good idea to make a television series of the Oscar-winning film Crash, but we do know that the Starz series is going to be made in New Mexico with Don Cheadle, star of the original film, and director Paul Haggis. Crash, the series, will be the crown jewel in NMFO’s mentorship program kick-off. Film Office Director Lisa Strout says 24 people will be placed during the first run of the series for 20- to 60-day periods.

Some people are still skeptical about the longterm survival of New Mexico’s film industry, but not Strout.

“It sounds arrogant, but when we meet with other members of the international film commissioners network we belong to, they all want to know how we’re doing it, especially the training programs. Other states are trying to compete, like Michigan, and giving away huge rebates, but that’s just desperate. Our model is based on our people and our resources,” Strout says.
New Mexicans who have worked up the ranks are now turning around and hiring more New Mexicans. The one thing nobody has the answer to, not even the ghost of Andy Warhol, is whether we’re stuck forever with Tamalewood as our moniker.
Read the full article at:
Tamalewood Works

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