State film office searching for another ‘Breaking Bad’


SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Film industry can mean big bucks for the state’s economy, but movies pale in comparison to what tv shows typically spend for a season, which is why the state’s film office is actively seeking out the next hit like ‘Breaking Bad.’

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In the fiscal year 2019, the New Mexico film industry had a direct spend of $525 million with 92 projects shooting in the state. While COVID cut that figure nearly in half in 2020, fiscal year 2021 added almost $100 million more to the record spend pre-pandemic.

With streaming services, broadcast giants like ABC and FOX, and cable networks like AMC all cranking out new shows at a break-neck speed, the tv series is proving to be a vital long-term provider of work in front and behind the cameras.

“Series stay on the ground a lot longer than a feature film. And what does that mean? It means longer jobs for our resident crew. That means more spend with our local businesses around the state,” said New Mexico Film Office Director Amber Dodson.

The AMC series Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are prime examples of what successful tv projects can do for the local economy. Breaking Bad, like most tv shows, shot between eight to 10 days per episode on average.

“I’ve been a producer on over 100 episodes of television in New Mexico,” said Stuart Lyons, Line Producer for Breaking Bad and FOX’s new series, The Cleaning Lady. “Generally speaking, I would say the New Mexico spend on each of those episodes … between a million and a half and two million dollars.”

Breaking Bad shot 62 episodes within New Mexico. Its sister series Better Call Saul will have 63 episodes when the series wraps production, that means the universe Vince Gilligan created alone will have spent between $187 million to $250 million in New Mexico, and that’s not including the Netflix film El Camino.

Dodson says tv series taking advantage of rebates up to 35 percent provide even greater opportunities than projects headed to the big screen. “There’s thousands of jobs within an ecosystem like that. Many of them are long term, most of them are very high-paying, and New Mexico has the assets to be that ecosystem,” Dodson said.

The so-called ‘Breaking Bad Bill’ offers up to a 35 percent rebate for tv shows that shoot six or more episodes within the state, making the incentive one of the most competitive in the nation.

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