ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Despite New Mexico’s film industry taking a hit during the pandemic, those on-camera and behind-the-scenes continue to flock to the state, even setting down roots. Just this week, MovieMaker Magazine named Albuquerque the best place to live and work in the film industry, for the fourth year in a row.
Producer Michael D. Jones says it’s easy to see why. He’s in the business of making movies. “I’m an independent line producer or feature film producer,” said Jones. “Generally as a line producer, I’m the one who’s tasked to break down the budget, create a budget, and basically, essentially, keep track of every single dollar that’s spent on and behind the screens.”
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It’s a talent that landed him on the radar of New Mexico’s Film Office. A few years ago, the state’s Economic Development secretary, Alicia Keyes, and director of the Film Office, Amber Dodson, made their pleas to get him to the state permanently.
“They said, ‘we’ll get you a real estate agent, whatever,'” said Jones. “I came back and I looked and I decided to purchase a home here in the Mesa del Sol area.”
Others are following suit. So much so, MovieMaker Magazine just named Albuquerque the best place to live and work in the industry for the fourth year in a row. “It’s great. I love it here,” said Jones. “My take is, I invested, I bought a house, I’m here, I just brought a movie here, I have other ones lined up.”
The magazine cites the state’s diverse locales like mountains and desert as diverse film backdrops. They also credit New Mexico’s close proximity to the west coast, just a short flight away from film hub meccas like Los Angeles.
“Everyone just thinks, ‘Oh, it’s the desert.’ Well, there’s so much more in the state,” said Jones. “As I’ve driven around, I’m like, ‘oh, there is greenery, there is water, there are cabins,’ so there is a lot more. You just have to get here and see it and expand.”
Jones chose a home in Mesa del Sol, just feet away from Netflix’s Albuquerque Studios. But he says the convenience of getting around the metro to other sets, being able to work from home and already having crews based here were huge selling points to fellow members of the film industry — and he hopes it catches on.
“It’s great to be here on the ground floor and see what’s happening,” said Jones. “If you come here and see what the state has to offer, I think you’ll be very happy and rewarded.”
Santa Fe also made MovieMaker Magazine’s list, coming in third in the small cities and towns category. Jones says some friends in the industry have moved up there and even to Rio Rancho. Other top places behind Albuquerque, include Toronto, Atlanta, Montreal and Boston.