New Mexico, ‘Stranger Things’ backdrop, hits production peak

Jul 14, 2022, 6:56 AM | Updated: 7:32 pm
FILE - New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivers the State of the State address during the 56...

FILE - New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivers the State of the State address during the 56th legislative session on Jan. 18, 2022, in Santa Fe, N.M. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says direct spending by production companies on films, TV series and other media has never been higher in the state, topping $855 million in fiscal year 2022., Thursday, July 14, 2022. (Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool, File)

(Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s film and TV industry has hit a new peak, with record spending by video production companies in a state that drew projects including the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”

Production companies directly spent a record $855 million on films, TV series and other media in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, New Mexico’s governor announced Thursday. Industry executives have been attracted to New Mexico’s unique landscapes since the success of AMC’s long-running series “Breaking Bad” and a generous increase of incentives passed by state lawmakers in 2019.

In-state spending by the industry increased about 36% from nearly $627 million the previous fiscal year.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a first-term Democrat running for reelection, also touted an increase in spending beyond major cities such as Santa Fe and Albuquerque, fueled by expanded state incentives for rural and small-town film production.

Local production spending in those outlying areas jumped more than six-fold to $49.5 million amid an industry rebound, state economic development officials told a legislative panel gathered in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

It was unclear how much the state will eventually spend on corresponding film incentive payments. New Mexico offers a rebate of between 25% and 35% of in-state spending for video production that helps filmmakers large and small underwrite their work.

Incentive payments crested at $148 million in 2019 before falling to about $40 million for the year ending in June 2021. While the state general fund is awash in income linked to federal pandemic aid along with a surge in oil and natural gas prices and production, some lawmakers have criticized the rebates as being too costly.

State economic development officials say conversations are underway with lawmakers to revisit terms of the state film tax rebate program when the Legislature meets again in January 2023, possibly redrawing the boundaries for bonuses in rural areas and exploring new incentives linked to lower emissions of climate-warming pollution by the energy-intensive industry.

Fiscally conservative legislators have questioned for years whether New Mexico may be spending too much on the film industry in comparison with the employment it sustains. But Lujan Grisham pointed to state data that showed an increase in the number of industry worker hours and new highs for the number of film and television productions overall at nearly 110 for the year.

“Due to the work we’ve done to foster a successful environment for production and build a thriving base of talented local crews, film and television productions from around the world are putting money directly into New Mexico communities, supporting our small businesses and creating jobs for thousands of New Mexicans,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

After the success of “Breaking Bad” and spinoff “Better Call Saul,” other notable recent productions in New Mexico include portions the fourth season of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” and AMC’s “Dark Winds,” based on the the mystery book series from Tony Hillerman and daughter Anne Hillerman.

Both Netflix and NBCUniversal have set up permanent production hubs in Albuquerque in recent years, adding to millions of dollars in investments and promises of more jobs.

Legislative reforms in 2019 opened up greater incentives to film production companies that demonstrate long-term commitments to New Mexico through a 10-year contract on a qualified production facility. Netflix and NBCUniversal have secured that “film partner” status that lifts the cap on annual production rebates.

Spending by the industry had been trending upward before the pandemic brought a halt to work due to public health mandates and industry protocols, resulting in a precipitous drop in 2020. As restrictions were eased, spending rebounded in 2021 as work ramped up.

Record-setting activity took place amid allegations of workplace safety violations on the set of “Rust,” where actor and producer Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer in October 2021. No criminal charges have been filed in the case and Baldwin has denied wrongdoing.

Rust Movie Productions is challenging the basis of a $137,000 fine against the company by state occupational safety regulators who say production managers on the set of the Western film failed to follow standard industry protocols for firearms safety.

The Legislature this year allocated $40 million to help establish a collaborative media academy to bolster training for the industry. Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes said the headquarters of the academy will be located in Albuquerque.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Police say rebels storm India army camp in Kashmir, 5 killed

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Three Indian soldiers and two suspected militants were killed Thursday after rebels stormed a military camp in disputed Kashmir, officials said. At least two assailants armed with guns and grenades attacked the camp in the remote Darhal area of southern Rajouri district early Thursday, said Mukesh Singh, a senior police officer. […]
22 hours ago
One year after a wind-fed wildfire charged across a craggy mountainside above Lone Pine, Calif., fl...
Associated Press

Life gradually returns a year after fire chars Sierra Nevada

LONE PINE, Calif. (AP) — The flames fade away. Firefighters extinguish the last embers. A final curl of smoke uncoils in the wind. A wildfire in the California wilderness has come to an end, and what’s left behind is a blackened landscape of skeletal pines and leafless oaks, scorched meadows and ashen stumps where saplings […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels speaks as he appears with former Pr...
Associated Press

Trump’s bond with GOP deepens after primary wins, FBI search

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump ‘s pick for governor in the swing state of Wisconsin easily defeated a favorite of the Republican establishment. In Connecticut, the state that launched the Bush family and its brand of compassionate conservatism, a fiery Senate contender who promoted Trump’s election lies upset the state GOP’s endorsed candidate. Meanwhile […]
22 hours ago
This photo provided by Gary Nichols shows him, right, with his brother, Alan, on the eve of his eut...
Associated Press

Experts see Canada’s euthanasia laws as threat to disabled

TORONTO (AP) — Alan Nichols had a history of depression and other medical issues, but none were life-threatening. When the 61-year-old Canadian was hospitalized in June 2019 over fears he might be suicidal, he asked his brother to “bust him out” as soon as possible. Within a month, Nichols submitted a request to be euthanized […]
22 hours ago
FILE- A man works on an under-production Indian national flag to dry in an office ahead of Independ...
Associated Press

At 75, India seeks way forward in big but job-scarce economy

NEW DELHI (AP) — As India’s economy grew, the hum of factories turned the sleepy, dusty village of Manesar into a booming industrial hub, cranking out everything from cars and sinks to smartphones and tablets. But jobs have run scarce over the years, prompting more and more workers to line up along the road for […]
22 hours ago
FILE - James Hetfield of Metallica performs at the Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago on July 2...
Associated Press

Metallica, Mariah Carey headline Global Citizen NYC concert

NEW YORK (AP) — Metallica, Mariah Carey and The Jonas Brothers will headline a free concert in New York’s Central Park next month marking the 10th anniversary of the Global Citizen Festival organized by the international nonprofit fighting extreme poverty. The Sept. 24 event will also feature a concert across the globe in Accra, Ghana, […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
New Mexico, ‘Stranger Things’ backdrop, hits production peak