This new year, like those that have come before it, is heralding a time of great change and development in all arenas of life throughout our country. New Mexico’s film industry is, of course, not exempt from this constant evolution — which is great news for those of us who have remained steadily dedicated to the beauty of our creative community here in the southwest.
Despite all the changes that have come and will continue to come, though, a few things remain the same. New York and LA are trying to maintain their white-knuckled grip on all things entertainment, and New Mexico is still giving them a run for their money. (No hard feelings to either coast, just a lot of pride for our desert home!)
For over a century now, the film community here in New Mexico has been continuing to grow, even while dealing with levels of poverty not experienced in the other industry hubs. What can be said? New Mexicans are scrappy, resilient, and surrounded by every landscape you could possibly need to backdrop a dramatic scene.
So, while it might have been a shock to those who are still unaware of New Mexico’s steady rise to the top of the film world, our state’s new deal with Netflix came as no surprise to the rest of us. Even so, what does this arrangement with the billion-dollar production company actually mean for New Mexicans? Let’s break it down.
As of November, the Albuquerque Development Commission confirmed a request from Netflix for an additional $24 million dollars in LEDA (Local Economic Development Act) funds, and a whopping $500 million IRB (Industrial Revenue Bond). No, you’re not crazy for thinking that’s an incomprehensible amount of money — it is! Especially if you’re from New Mexico.
With these funds and plans in order, Netflix is moving forward with adding an additional 300 acres of land to their pre-existing plot formerly known as Albuquerque Studios. This land will serve the film industry as a home for special effects warehouses, film stages, training facilities, and more.
Sounds pretty exciting, right? It is!
This means that, for those aforementioned dedicated and creative New Mexicans, we can expect to see our state turn into Netflix’s main production hub for North America. Which translates to, as far as we know, more jobs, more opportunities, and more filmic art for our population.
But, because Netflix is already stealing the show, let’s not forget to mark our calendars for the other, equally important things happening this coming year.
For example — the new Tom Hanks film that was shot here in New Mexico will debut on streaming platforms starting January 15th. Perfect for all us natives who’ve been diligently protecting our community by not exploring our gorgeous landscapes — now we can see them on the big screen! (Okay, at least on the medium screen, because a lot of us will be watching from our laptops.) This film, hopefully setting the precedent for all other productions that come to New Mexico, employed over 200 local crew members and 25 local actors. It’s no wonder we all love Tom Hanks here!
And, if you need an even bigger dose of New Mexican scenery, you can check out the new short film from Todd Ballantyne, The Far Away. Ballantyne partnered with the Georgia O’Keefe museum in Santa Fe to create a filmic representation of the landscapes which inspired the locally and internationally loved artist.
Outside of releases, we still have a lot going on here at home. There’s Experiments in Cinema, an annual event that showcases some of the greatest works in nontraditional film ever seen, happening May 1st through the 22nd. And, later in the year, the 13th edition of the 2021 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival — an event that has made Moviemaker Magazine’s 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee for 7 years in a row now.
Wherever this year takes us as individuals, we can all take heart knowing that as a creative collective, we’re doing nothing but gaining speed and strength. That’s what being a New Mexican is all about — overcoming the odds and making some pretty freaking incredible art about it, too.