Monday, June 28, 2010

NMBW: Gubernatorial Candidates & the Film Industry

From the New Mexico Business Weekly:

Denish, Martinez differ a little on future of New Mexico film industry - New Mexico Business Weekly

New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick NMBW Staff

Read more: Denish, Martinez differ a little on future of New Mexico film industry - New Mexico Business Weekly

At a recent conference on film financing and distribution, there was a distinct sense that an era was coming to an end in the New Mexico film industry with the departure of Gov. Bill Richardson at year's end.

Most of the state's film incentives were set up under former Governor Gary Johnson, but many in the industry in New Mexico credit Richardson with pushing the incentives aggressively and wooing more production here.

So those with businesses serving that industry are eager to know the position of the gubernatorial candidates.


Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, the Democratic candidate, said the film industry has been a powerful job creator. State officials put that number at more than 10,000.

"I want to work with the industry and the Legislature to continue to provide sustainable, accountable incentives," she said.

Denish said it's also important to build up post-production here. Much of that still goes back to Los Angeles or other production centers.

She acknowledged that there have been at least two studies on the return on investment on the incentives that came to different conclusions.

"But I think we have basically done things right in New Mexico," Denish said.


Susana Martinez, the Republican candidate for governor, submitted a prepared statement on the film industry incentives.

"Last year, the state faced a budget deficit close to $600 million, while at the same time spending over $76 million on film incentives," said Martinez. "I support efforts to bring the film industry to New Mexico, but I believe we must do a better job ensuring these incentives are truly helping the economy."

Martinez expressed concern about what she said is conflicting data on the industry. A study by the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University found a far lower return on investment from the incentives than a study by Ernst & Young, although the parameters of each study were different.

"If elected, I will order an independent economic review of these incentives to ensure New Mexicans are getting an adequate return on investment," Martinez said. "A study of the entire tax system must be undertaken to ensure that we create an environment that allows for long-term growth and lower taxes to help all small businesses, which are the backbone of the economy."


Past threats of eliminating or capping the incentives in the Legislature reverberated far beyond New Mexico, said Rick Clemente, owner of Production Central Albuquerque and manager for the I-25 Studios in the former Philips plant, where cable TV series "In Plain Sight" films. Two years ago, when a bill was introduced to eliminate the incentives, $70 million in scheduled production left the state for Canada, Clemente said, even though the bill died fairly quickly.

"No one is going to spend the next $20 million or $50 million if every year this agonizing legislative process is going on," he said.

Clemente said he supports the maximum transparency possible, but he also supports keeping the incentives in place for a set period of time to provide predictability.

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