One of the state’s busiest filming locations say it’s about to get busier, now that it’s gotten the attention of some new industry eyes.
Company officials from Netflix just recently came out to Santa Fe to tour Bonanza Creek Ranch’s five movie sets.
The Bonanza Creek Ranch, just south of Santa Fe, has belonged to the Hughes family since the 1940s. In the 1950s, with just a pond and thousands of acres of land, it began appearing in movies. Thirty years later, it would become a full-service filming location.
Columbia Pictures wanted to shoot an Old Western. “Silverado, said they wanted to build a set,” said owner Imogene Hughes. “So they said homestead, which was a house, a barn, and a cowboy’s house.”
The movie “Silverado” hit theaters in 1985. In it, a misfit group of men end up in a small town being run by a greedy rancher. It starred a young actor named Kevin Costner.
Hughes says it’s become one of her favorite movies, and Costner is now one of her favorite actors to work with. “I told him, ‘You were kinda little smart aleck in that thing,'” recalled Hughes.
Hughes would go on to add four more movie sets and shoot dozens of films and TV series, including the epic westerns “Lonesome Dove,” “Hostiles” and the western comedy “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” She says the ranch is also used for projects like music videos and commercials.
“I heard from Ronnie Dunn the other day,” said Hughes.
Ronnie Dunn, from the country duo Brooks and Dunn, is a Country Hall of Famer who shot one of his videos on the ranch. It’s one Hughes will never forget.
“These pianos are burning on the side of the hill and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we are going to catch this ranch on fire,'” said Hughes. “I went out there and Ronnie was even out there. Everyone had a fire extinguisher.”
She now remembers the moment with Dunn with a laugh. “He said, ‘I could have only been remembered by burning down New Mexico!'”
Last fall, Netflix bought Albuquerque Studios, giving the company a permanent presence in New Mexico. In exchange for millions in city and state economic funding, Netflix has agreed to spend $1 billion on productions in the first 10 years of operations here.