New Mexico picks next funding slate

'Believe,' 'Walkout' obtain loans from state

The state of New Mexico has approved $11 million in loans to finance a feature film and a telepic to be shot in the state.

New Mexico officials announced Tuesday that the State Investment Council had OK’d a three-year $3.5 million interest-free loan for basketball drama “Believe in Me,” representing half the film’s $7 million budget.

Pic, written and directed by Robert Collector and produced by Cotty Chubb and John Manulis, is based on the book “Brief Garland,” about high school women’s basketball coach Jim Keith. It will be shot completely in New Mexico.

“I’ve owned a home and business in New Mexico for more than 15 years, and I’ve always wanted to make a movie here,” Manulis said. “Film is a good, clean industry, and I’m thrilled to be able to bring to New Mexico the economics and the personal opportunities that a film provides.”

Most of budget covered

The state also announced a five-year $7.5 million loan to HBO’s “Walkout,” covering most of its $9.5 million budget.

Telepic — written by Ernie Contreras, directed by Felix Alcala and produced by Moctesuma Esparza — is the story of a group of high school students in East Los Angeles who stage a walkout to protest injustices in the public school system in 1968.

The loans are part of the $85 million the state has set aside through its Severance Tax Fund to lure productions that shoot mostly in the state and use a crew composed of at least 60% New Mexico residents.

An equity investor

The loans place the state in the role of equity investor if a film meets specific profit targets.

New Mexico launched the program two years ago with a $7.5 million investment in Paramount’s “Suspect Zero,” which opens Aug. 27. After breakeven, or $50 million in worldwide box office, the state receives 2.5% of “Suspect Zero” box office revenues; the figure kicks up to 3% if domestic B.O. tops $90 million.

The state has also loaned $4.7 million interest-free on NuImage’s “Blind Horizon,” a thriller toplined by Val Kilmer, and has 5% profit participation. Other loans include $7.5 million to Capital Films’ “Elvis Has Left the Building” and $1.7 million to Primetime Pictures’ “Cruel World.”

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