Sunday, August 24, 2008

NM Featured in Mountain West Roundup

Interesting article in this Sunday's Las Vegas Sun, looking at the strategies of its neighbor states, including New Mexico (and referencing the dreaded 't-word'). For Colorado, it's clean-tech, Biosciences in Arizona and... there's some more positive coverage of New Mexico's efforts to build film industry.

Nevada neighbors turn ideas into economies

...New Mexico is also relying on technology, but on its creative assets even more.

Albuquerque is now called Tamale-wood, as 2,000 New Mexico residents work in the film and television industry, almost all of them in high-paying union jobs.

Gov. Bill Richardson instituted an aggressive tax incentive program to bring Hollywood east.

Unlike many pie-in-the-sky tax incentive programs that wind up being expensive giveaways to big business with little payoff, this one made sense. In part, it made sense because New Mexico was one of the first. More important, Hollywood loves New Mexico for its weather, diverse locations for shooting, food, laid-back lifestyle, Santa Fe vacation spots and creative assets, according to Lisa Strout, director of the state film office, who was in the industry 20 years.

Film companies can get a 25 percent rebate on gross receipts, corporate income and other taxes and apply for up to $15 million in no-nterest loans. They’ve also created a vocational-tech program at the state’s community colleges, for “below-the-line” work — the carpentry, makeup, costuming and other nuts and bolts of the industry. Now the state is beginning to cultivate homegrown actors, directors and writers.

Strout said policymakers take a cold cost-benefit approach to the industry: “We’ve always treated it as a business.”

TV and movie sets are all over Albuquerque and the hinterlands. The Coen brothers shot “No Country for Old Men” in Las Vegas, N.M. The newest offering of “The Terminator” franchise is being shot in Albuquerque now. With the help of government policy, an important critical mass has been achieved, and now soundstages and other important infrastructure are being built, which will further ratchet up the New Mexico advantage.

On the set of a TV show out this fall called “Easy Money,” producer Brandon Hill lauded New Mexico: “I love it. It’s terrific the industry found this,” he said.

They were shooting the show at a dilapidated strip mall. It’s a comedic drama about a family in the payday loan business written by some “Sopranos” alums. The production pays good money for the space for the day, and the lot is brimming with people carrying equipment, down to a parasol held over the female lead, Laurie Metcalf.

Such is the measuring stick for Nevada, a state that is falling behind its western neighbors in the effort to create a new economy...

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Schwarzenneger/Terminator Connection?

Of course it's been too long since I've seen new Terminator News (they've been pretty busy), and Governor Richardson likes to joke about Governor Schwarzenegger's... annoyance at New Mexico providing a cozy new home for film and tv production, so, this bit in WIRED was interesting:

Arnold's Voice in Terminator? Maybe, Says Producer

Arnold Schwarzenegger will not appear on screen in Terminator: Salvation, but the film's producer, Moritz Borman, got cagey when asked if the Governator might make his presence known via voiceover.

Borman, who produced all three previous Terminator movies, told Wired.com: "Schwarzenegger is governing California. He will not be, as a person, in the film."

"As a person" opens the door to some kind of voiceover, right?

"I'm not going to answer the question about what we're trying, or what we want, or what we're toying with," said Borman. "It's really up to what fits in the film or not. Maybe his voice, or maybe not. It's really not settled...

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Electronic Recycling This Friday and Saturday

It's happening again... Something I think Intel started doing in the Rio Rancho area is expanding a bit to include us here in Albuquerque.

From the New Mexico Business Weekly:
Free electronic recycling events scheduled for Aug. 22, 23

The City of Albuquerque is teaming up with Intel Corp.; KOAT-TV, Channel 7; Bernalillo County; and Natural Evolution to host free electronic recycling events for residents and small businesses.

This is the third time the partners have offered e-waste recycling drives. Last April, the event collected more than 500,000 pounds of old computers, printers, phones and home electronics.

Businesses can drop off their e-waste on Aug. 22, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and residents on Aug. 23, also from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pick up service can be arranged between Aug. 18 and 21 for businesses that have 125 or more units for recycling.

Items accepted for recycling include computer monitors, all office-related equipment, consumer electronics, telephones and cell phones, cameras and stereo equipment. Televisions and home appliances will not be accepted.

Drop off is at a parking lot south of Balloon Fiesta Park (from Alameda, head north on San Mateo to San Diego Street and continue west to the north side parking lot).

For more information, call the city help line at 311 or visit www.cabq.gov/solidwaste.



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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Science News: POP CHIRP BITE CRUNCH CHEW


The story of David Dunn and James Crutchfield's investigation of the effects of Beetles on our forests includes, research, sonification, visualization and much more -- another innovative use of media, art and science right here in New Mexico.

It's a fascinating -- and alarming -- story, here in Science News:
POP CHIRP BITE CRUNCH CHEW

It turns out that a tree doesn’t have to fall in the forest to make a sound. Upright trees make plenty of sounds, even though human ears can’t hear them. But few aside from botanists would have known about the voices of the trees if two guys had not pounded an old meat thermometer turned ultrasonic microphone into a beetle-infested piñon.

When they did, composer David Dunn and physicist Jim Crutchfield heard “sounds that went on, uninterrupted, for long periods of time. It was a constant ultrasound, and it didn’t matter where you were, the sound was there,” Crutchfield says. “It was bizarre.”

The cacophony came from a tree besieged by drought — and from a frenzy of tree-invading beetles.

The duo’s investigation began after Crutchfield’s New Mexican piñon pine trees came under attack.

“I had to cut down 100 trees on my lot,” he says, “and I wanted to know what killed them.”

Much more at POP CHIRP BITE CRUNCH CHEW
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Latino Producers Academy, now in NM

From the NM Business Weekly, a nice comprehensive article on the move of NALIP's Latino Producers Academy to New Mexico...

Latino Producers Academy moves to New Mexico

Tucson’s loss is Santa Fe’s gain.

The nonprofit National Association of Latino Independent Producers, or NALIP, has moved its Latino Producers Academy to the state after holding it for five years in Arizona and it has big plans to grow the training program here, along with the New Mexico Filmmakers program.

“We want to make this a Latino Sundance and a real year-round professional development for Native New Mexican and Latino talent here,” said Kathryn Galan, executive producer of NALIP. “We felt we could continue and expand our mission to New Mexico filmmakers by bringing the program here and we could dovetail with the Film Office and the governor’s mission of developing above-the-line talent and stories, and also participate in their commitment to training below-the-line New Mexican Latinos and Natives in the production and intern part of our program.”

Below-the-line is an industry phrase that refers to crews on films. Above-the-line generally means the creative teams behind productions, such as writers, producers, directors and actors. New Mexico’s film industry has been successful in working with schools here to train crews for film productions, but state officials also want to focus on promoting more creative talent here, such as writers and directors.

...

Gov. Bill Richardson has an ambitious agenda to build a sustainable media community in New Mexico, Delaney added, and this dovetails well with that strategy.

The New Mexico fellows in this year’s Latino Producers Academy include: Darryl Deloach and Marcos Ramirez whose film is “The Liberation of Taos Ski Valley”; Claudio Ruben, who is making “Salaam Shalom”; Kelly Kowalski with “Spoiled”; Jerry Angelo and his film “Something Evil in the Apple Orchard”; Conrad Gomez, who is making “Sabino Days”; and Monica Winter, whose film is “Highway 101.”

Key New Mexico advisors to the academy include: Carlos Peinado with the Institute of American Indian Arts; Jon Hendry with IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 480; actor Gary Farmer; Dyanna Taylor, director of photography; Chad Davis, program director for KNME; Ted Garcia, former KNME station manager and now senior vice president for TV content with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and writer/director Joan Tewkesbury.

The state’s New Visions/New Mexico program is accepting applications through Sept. 5 at 5:00 p.m. It provides a total of $160,000 in contracts for New Mexico-based producers and directors to create narrative films, documentaries, animated and experimental works.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Helena Bonham Carter - Bad Again in Terminator

From a Helena Bonham Carter fan site -- by way of SciFi.com -- comes this:

from scifi.com, August 5, 2008

by Ian Spelling

Helena Bonham Carter, who just joined the cast of McG’s upcoming Terminator Salvation, confirmed to SCI FI Wire that she plays a villainous character in the SF prequel.

“I kind of play a baddie, definitely a baddie,” Bonham Carter said in an interview while promoting her new film, the comedy-drama Sixty Six. “I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say, but I’m a very bad person.”

Bonham Carter is a new addition to the cast of the film, which already includes Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd) replaced Tilda Swinton at the 11th hour and will work a total of about 10 days on the film, which is currently in production in New Mexico.

“Tim [Burton] would have killed me if I hadn’t done it, because he’s such a Terminator fan,” Bonham Carter said, referring to her longtime partner and director on such films as Planet of the Apes. “I’ve been in big movies before, like Apes, and Fight Club was big in a different way, and Charlie [and the Chocolate Factory] and Sweeney Todd were big, but I’ve never been in this kind of big popcorn action movie, a male one, an action one.” Terminator Salvation opens May 22, 2009.

http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=0&id=58332


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Lectrosonics: Another Cool NM Company under the Radar

From The Briefing Room comes news of another NM-based company that... that we probably should be more aware of:

LECTROSONICS HELPS DOCUMENT THE ‘LAST GREAT LAND GRAB’ IN THE WORLD
Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada – August 2008… Perhaps nowhere on Earth is global warming and the resulting climactic changes having a more profound effect than in the Arctic region. In an area that previously held very little benefit for most people, there is suddenly tremendous interest in the land—and who owns it—as a result of the natural resources that are present here. Now the race is on to determine who owns title to the area. In a region that was once ‘a given’ in terms of its territorial ownership by Canada, the Northwest Passage and the North Pole are now areas of dispute by the US, Russia, Denmark, and Canada. Recently, Joe Media Group, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, set out to document this race for territory and riches and the arsenal of production gear used for this project included wireless equipment from Lectrosonics.

Douglas Munro, c.s.c. and co-owner of Calgary, Alberta-based HDTV Productions was contracted by Joe Media Group to provide Director of Photography services for the project, known as The Battle for the Arctic by Arctic Passage Productions, Inc. The documentary, which is slated for broadcast via the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), is expected to air during Winter 2009. “According to Munro, “This region is ripe for the exploration of oil, natural gas, and other resources and, to determine who owns what, there is a lot of mapping taking place throughout the area. Our mission was to tell this story in order to give viewers a perspective on what’s at stake here.”

“The outside temperatures hovered in the range of -35C,” continued Munro, “so our wireless equipment had to perform under some truly grueling conditions. I’ve always experienced great results with our Lectrosonics gear, so we used two UM450 Digital Hybrid Wireless beltpack transmitters with an SR dual-channel slot mount ENG receiver. For the most part, the transmitters were placed inside the jackets of the on-camera interviewer and the subjects who were speaking. The receiver was normally mounted on the camera, which was inside a Portabrace Pola Cover with Heat Factory disposable heat packs.

Munro notes that on some of the more “balmy” days—where temperatures climbed to -20C—he elected to use a Portabrace shoulder cover on the camera, which left the SR receiver exposed to the cold. “We were operating under a really fast-paced schedule,” notes Munro, “and at times, it was simply inconvenient to use the Pola cover. As a matter of course, we also changed the transmitter batteries every two hours, but it was obvious that they could have lasted longer; we just wanted to be safe while operating in the cold weather.”

Munro was very pleased with the performance of his Lectrosonics equipment. “Operationally, the receiver’s display was easy to read and use, and even in cold weather the display was active,” said Munro. “It’s not uncommon for LCD displays to freeze up under these conditions. The fact that the SR receiver’s display kept right on working is a big deal as it provides an extra level of confidence that the levels one is reading are accurate. Similarly, the transmitters had no problem with signal strength—even though they were often buried inside thick parkas. Throughout this project, sound quality was excellent and the gear performed as reliably as always.”

In addition to the stellar performance of the Lectrosonics wireless equipment, Munro was equally enthusiastic about the company’s customer and technical support services. “Lectrosonics continues to impress me,” says Munro. “Not only does the gear perform really well, the company is extremely proactive in the way its supports its customers. Lectrosonics recently issued an update for the SR receiver and, rather than waiting for word of this to trickle down via people who stumble upon the update on the company’s website, Lectrosonics actually called their dealers to notify them. In turn, my dealer (Matrix Video Communications in Calgary) called me. This sort of responsiveness is rare in this business and I really appreciate it.”

Before continuing with the next phase of The Battle for the Arctic that will take him to Moscow, Russia, Munro offered this closing thought. “My Lectrosonics equipment couldn’t have performed better,” said Munro. “The gear handled the cold weather without a problem, it’s lightweight (which was very convenient for documentary camera operation), and the range allowed for complete flexibility in the field. I’m a big fan of their products.”

For additional information about HDTV Productions, Incorporated, visit the company online at www.hdtvproductions.com.


About Lectrosonics

Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theater technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company’s dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Duke City Shootout in the News

Personally, I'm almost recovered from the Duke City Shootout, and... very happy with what we produced. The idea of creating the equivalent of a full length movie in a single week of shooting and post-production each year, might seem a little crazy, but it really is kinda fun -- and a great learning experience.

One thing that made this year's Shootout and our gala premiere a little more special was the involvement of some key players from the locally shot "Breaking Bad". Here's the wrap-up from the NM Business Weekly:

'Breaking Bad' star gives Shootout a Hollywood glint

The Duke City Shootout got a little star power for its awards ceremony Saturday night.

Bryan Cranston, star of the AMC series "Breaking Bad," now shooting its second season in Albuquerque, welcomed the crowd. His co-star, Albuquerque native Steven Quezada, emceed the event and Dean Norris and Aaron Paul were on hand to give out awards.

Cranston, who said he and his family love Albuquerque and have purchased a house in the city, called the whole concept of the Shootout "brave" and asked that the filmmakers, once they're famous and working regularly, remember to hire him.

This was the ninth year for the Duke City Shootout, a digital filmmaking festival that chooses seven scripts out of hundreds and gives the writers all the resources they need to come to the city and produce the film in exactly one week.

For the first time, there was a two-time winner in the Shootout. Will Hartman won last year for his film "Easy Pickins" and this year he won the "Palm de Grease" award for his film "Food For Thought," which satirized abstinence education using high school zombies.

"It takes a village to raise an idiot and it took a crew like this to help this idiot finish a film," Hartman said, then added "We bit off more than we could chew," to groans from the audience, who had just watched his zombies feasting on unfortunate humans.

"Only an elected official can give this out," quipped Mayor Martin Chavez as he presented the Palm de Grease award to Hartman.

The audience favorite award went to "Preschool's a Bitch" by Albuquerquean Christopher Boone, which is about a laid-back dad undermining his Type-A wife's attempts to get their angelic daughter into a prestigious pre-school.

Elaine Hendrix, an actress from Hollywood, took home best actress for her role in "Food For Thought." Victor Izay won best actor for his role in "Assassin Emeritus" about a retired government assassin looking for one more score to liven up his twilight years.

"I worked in over 200 films and never had a better experience," said Izay, who is 85. "I can't tell you what this means to me. This is probably the last thing I'll do."

Aaron Lieber won for best cinematography for "The Baker's Road Killing," a dark tale of murder and corruption on a deserted highway. It starred Hollywood actor Basil Hoffman.

Cyndi Trissel won the best editor award for "Preschool's a Bitch." That film also won for best soundtrack for Mark Oates' score.

Best art direction went to Ned Lathrop for "Mantrap," which also won the "Bohica" award for overcoming the greatest obstacles. The spare Western follows a bounty hunter who gets ensnared in his own trap.

Paul Gallegos, who comes back from Houston regularly to help with the festival, got the volunteer of the year award.

Sony (NYSE: SNE) provided PMWEX1 cameras for the Shootout this year. Other sponsors included Intel (NYSE: INTC), Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE), Entertainment Partners, Hampton Inn & Suites, DRB Electric, the city of Albuquerque, Laru Ni Hati, Tractor Brewing Co., the ARTS Lab at the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College.

mkamerick@bizjournals.com | (505) 348-8323

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