SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s film industry has brought jobs, cash, and fame to the state. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to sit back and relax. Instead, New Mexico’s policymakers are considering ways to keep the industry growing – and how to keep competition at bay.
Recently, New Mexico has invested heavily in the film industry. One way the state does so is by offering tax credits to film productions.
“We offer one of the most competitive, and I think smart, film tax credits in the nation, if not the world,” Amber Dodson, the director of the New Mexico Film Office, told legislators in an Economic and Rural Development and Policy Committee meeting. “A 25% refundable tax credit – that is the base.”
On top of giving that 25% tax break to spending by films, the state also gives an extra tax credit for films in rural New Mexico. Those credits are based on expenses for things like New Mexican actors. Dodson says that the requirement to use local resources sets New Mexico apart from some other states that try to incentivize filmmaking. Overall, the average tax credit to productions is 19%, Dodson says.
New Mexico is expecting to pay out between about $150 million and $195 million in tax credits per year for the next five years, the New Mexico Film Office estimates. The state is discussing even more ways to attract and keep production.
A key concern is ensuring productions choose to come to New Mexico rather than other states. Currently, California, Georgia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, New York, and others offer tax incentives and could be a threat to New Mexico.
“Arizona recently passed a film bill,” Dodson told lawmakers. “They could be competition in time.”
What sets New Mexico apart, Dodson says, is that New Mexico has a better talent pool to hire from and better film-related education. Texas does have some of those, Dodson noted. But Texas doesn’t have the marketing and reputation New Mexico has built in the industry, Dodson said. “That’s what we don’t want to lose,” she added.
Some lawmakers said they want to see even more work done to get production and the economic booms they bring, to rural areas. “At some point, it would be great to have a series filmed outside Albuquerque and Santa Fe,” Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana) told the film office. “I think that’s a great thing to lobby our film partners up north [in Albuquerque and Santa Fe] for.”
Steinborn acknowledged that it probably is difficult to attract productions to rural areas without infrastructure like soundstages. “But I think that’s another deliverable that we can try to shoot for,” Steinborn added.
Another relatively easy improvement policymakers are eyeing: Requiring films to list the local region used as a setting within the film’s end credits. By law, they’re required to list ‘New Mexico,’ but localities, like Las Cruces, are often left uncredited.
“I think it’s brilliant,” Dodson from the film office said about the idea. “If that’s something we can do in [rulemaking], yes, absolutely I’m open to that.”