Albuquerque, Santa Fe ramp up film appeal

New Mexico’s two production zones — Albuquerque and Santa Fe — are ramping up their filming appeal.

Santa Fe Studios received a greenlight from Santa Fe’s county commissioners late last month. The multiphase project, destined for construction in the business park on New Mexico Highway 14, will include full-service, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified green production facilities, promising 500 jobs and an anticipated $300 million annual impact on the local economy.

The pueblo-style campus facility, expected to be operational by the end of 2009, will include 10 sound stages encompassing 500,000 square feet, built over phases, and will incorporate the entire pre-, principal and post-production cycle.

On hand to bolster the battle for passage of the resolution were CEO Lance Hool, chief operating officer Conrad Hool and prexy Jason Hool, along with Santa Fe Studios board member Gary Credle, Warner Bros. exec VP, administration and studio operations.

The overlappingSanta Fe and Albuquerque production zones are only 60 miles apart. They offer unique locations and split the existing crew base. Albuquerque, the state’s largest city, offers a wide variety of urban looks, doubling for Dallas, Los Angeles and sometimes (barely) New York. The state’s capital of Santa Fe, once the center of production, is small and quaint, boasting three Western sets/towns plus Las Golondrinas (a living museum that doubles as a Mexican village). Near Santa Fe is Las Vegas, N.M. (a double for the Midwest and period settings from turn of the century through the ’50s), as well as Georgia O’Keeffe’s home, Ghost Ranch.

Albuquerque reaped the benefits of a recent increase in urban films lensing in New Mexico, and the fully booked 16-month-old Albuquerque Studios contributed to the influx. However, state-of-the-art soundstages in Santa Fe could once again split film production and boost the state’s already thriving film production schedule.

“The idea of the first ‘green studio’ being built in Santa Fe, N.M., is very exciting to us,” said Lisa Strout, director of the New Mexico Film Office. “Gov. Bill Richardson has initiated progressive pieces of legislation over the past few years to encourage environmentally friendly businesses and practices, and New Mexico was the first state to create a green filmmaking program.”

Also rallying for the studio’s proposal were Eric Witt, head of media arts for Gov. Richardson’s office and Jon Hendry, business agent for the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480.

“We are extremely excited by the vote of the Santa Fe County Commissioners in support of the project,” said Jason Hool. “This is a momentous occasion in the history of Santa Fe. We are thrilled and thankful to the County Commissioners for their long-term vision and action to bring high-wage jobs and clean industry to the community of Santa Fe. We look forward to their further approval of the Local Economic Development ordinance that will allow us to seek State Grants.”

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The Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl. is seeking nominations and applicants for its AFCI Arthur M. Loew Jr. Crystal Vision Award.

Established in 1989, the award commemorates Loew’s devotion and efforts to make the AFCI a vital and highly professional part of the on-location film and TV production industry. Loew, grandson to MGM founder Marcus Loew and Paramount founder Adolph Zukor, helped establish the AFCI advisory board and served as mentor to the board of directors as well as film commissioners worldwide.

The Crystal Vision Award recognizes AFCI members and/or staff who advance the mission of the AFCI and the vision of on-location filmmaking.

Contact info@afci.org for information.

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