Correction Issued Below:
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Film and television production is bouncing back in New Mexico, with at least 14 projects already announced for this year — employing more than 4,400 New Mexicans. All of this comes after productions were halted in the state for half of 2020.
The lack of work for New Mexico crews for the better part of 2020 — March through September — hit the film industry hard. However, it didn’t stop them from giving back to the state in a big way, donating more than $400,000 to film schools here in New Mexico, before getting back to work.
“When production halted across New Mexico last March, it was a major setback, of course,” said Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office. “By mid-summer, it was apparent that we had to learn how to work safely.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the film industry was the first in the state to acquire their own testing. More than 60,000 COVID tests were given, with a positivity rate of only 0.18.
“The film industry was the first industry in New Mexico to engage independent of a requirement by the state for their own testing,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “It’s all because you had a vision and you were willing to work hard for it, fight for it, and we are your partners in every bit of that effort.”
Actress Jeanine Mason of CW show “Roswell, New Mexico” also spoke during the film office’s event. She says shooting three seasons with local cast and crew has been the most positive experience, compared with filming in other locations across the globe.
“From the person who spends every day with New Mexico crews, I don’t think I’m biased in saying they’re the best of the best. I have been in awe of their professionalism, their capability, their creativity,” said Mason, who is a part of SAG-AFTRA. “I hope to have seven amazing years here. I’m excited for year four but when that comes to an end, I will absolutely be searching for another job here in New Mexico.”
Mason says the productions that come here try to support local businesses and non-profits as much as they can. Mason, who also voices a character in Peacock animated series “Trolls: Trollstopia, says she does all of her voice work exclusively with a New Mexico studio. “I want you to know that us being here, so much of it means us wanting to be more involved here when it comes to work,” said Mason. “We love being fans of local businesses and doing what we can to highlight them.”
According to the New Mexico Film Office, fiscal year 2020 — which ran from July 2019 through June 2020 — still saw 19 productions and nearly $274.9 million in direct spending, despite losing months of production. This is compared to $525.5 million in direct spending and 43 projects in fiscal year 2019.
During the 2020 fiscal year, the film office says they were also able to put 135 crew members through the New Mexico Film Crew Advancement Program. The film office says in addition to actually shooting projects here, post-production is also growing in New Mexico, working hand-in-hand with the local tech industry.
Correction: In a previous version of this story KRQE reported “According to the New Mexico Film Office, fiscal year 2020 — which ran from July 2019 through June 2020 — still saw 80 productions and nearly $400 million in direct spending, despite losing months of production. This is compared to $525 million in direct spending and 73 projects in fiscal year 2019.” The numbers have since been corrected.