New Mexico productions waiting on green light to start filming again

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Film crews are still wondering what it will take to get up and running again. Many productions have been on hold since March when state health orders related to the coronavirus started limiting large gatherings of people.

“We’re really excited to get back to set,” said Karen Criswell, film liaison for the Albuquerque Film Office. “As soon as the state gives us the green light, the Albuquerque Film Office will be ready.”

Film and TV productions may be at a standstill, but the Albuquerque Film Office says it’s working hard to get things going again. They are still seeing a major demand for film permits which they recently made digital for safety. Now, they’re just waiting for the state to give them the green light.

“It’ll be a big, huge step towards helping make the process more efficient once we do get that green light to go back to set,” said Criswell. “It’s really important for us to continue to modernize our process to maintain Albuquerque’s reputation as a film-friendly city.”

The New Mexico Film Office says it doesn’t know when productions may resume because it’s still working on developing COVID-safe practices. Meanwhile, states like Georgia — where nearly 400 film and TV productions took place last year — released new filming guidelines. They include things like having a limited number of people on set and keeping records of interactions between actors if a scene requires them to get close.

Like New Mexico, California has yet to roll out a new plan. Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix, which has a production hub in Albuquerque, just met with California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom. He says productions are underway in countries like South Korea and Iceland — and they’re closely monitored.

“In Korea, anyone with a symptom is immediately tested and production is shut down,” said Sarandos. “The one thing that is constant throughout the world is that production environments are very controlled environments.”

We asked the state if they’re worried New Mexico will lose productions to states like Georgia or countries overseas if things don’t pick up soon. A spokesman told us, “no,” saying New Mexico is the hottest location in the world right now for TV and film. A few of the local productions impacted by the shutdowns include the final season of Better Call Saul and the fourth season of Stranger Things.

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