Film + TV
New Mexico boasts one of the oldest and most established film industries in the nation—and one of the most accessible, due to our state’s small population, strong training programs, and local hiring initiatives. Initially, New Mexico was home base for the filming of the American Western. Today, it is a favorite location of the Coen Brothers, home to the long-running Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul series, and an increasingly common filming location for blockbuster movies including The Avengers, Iron Man, and Independence Day. Annually, the industry produces more than a billion dollars in economic output.
New Mexico’s film industry is one of the nation’s largest and most mature, having played host to famous movies for over six decades. In 2018 alone, New Mexico provided the crews and backdrops for $52 million+ productions, and the state has long been a favorite shooting location for the multi-Academy Award-winning Coen brothers. In recent history, New Mexico talent and production studios have crewed shows that have included Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, No Country for Old Men, Sicario, True Grit, Hell or High Water, Godless, Longmire, The Avengers, Iron Man, Transformers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Ridiculous Six, The Lone Ranger, 3:10 to Yuma, and Independence Day: Resurgence.
In 2018, Netflix announced that it would invest more than a billion dollars in the state with its purchase of Albuquerque Studios—an unexpected move that signaled New Mexico’s growing reputation as the biggest regional player outside of Los Angeles and New York. In the words of film industry trade magazine Moviemaker.com, “In a year where Netflix has continued to grow at an astounding rate, the streaming platform’s biggest leap was its deal to open a U.S. production hub in Albuquerque, New Mexico.” In short, New Mexico’s abundant and well-paying job opportunities for creatives, makers, and more are about to further expand.
In 2019, NBCUniversal Studios announced that it would invest $500 million in New Mexico over the next 10 years, generating approximately $1.1 billion in economic impact. The investment includes the purchase and renovation of downtown warehouse space into production studios, where the studio network will produce scripted broadcast and cable programming, cementing Albuquerque’s growing reputation as a national media hub.
According to Universal Television President Dawn Olmstead, “NBC Universal has enjoyed a longstanding and productive relationship with New Mexico ... and we are grateful for the opportunity to expand our presence in this community.” In the words of New Mexico Governor Lujan-Grisham, “We are growing New Mexico’s film industry, diversifying our economy and creating exciting jobs. I’m thrilled to welcome our state’s newest partner, NBCUniversal. The media industry is increasingly vital to our state’s workforce, providing stable long-term employment for talented individuals of every age, from all parts of the state. I’m thrilled to be part of expanding that industry—and we will continue to do so."
Film insiders know that most regional film markets provide jobs to “below-the-line” crew, that include a diverse array of creatives, craftspeople, and technicians—from painters, designers, actors, and drivers to electricians, lighting technicians, sound artists, and costumers. What separates the true powerhouse film markets of Los Angeles and New York from the rest is their development and employment of “above-the-line” crew from their own local talent pools: the screenwriters, directors, producers, and headlining actors who are central to getting a film made and who take home the biggest paychecks.
Over the last two decades, the state’s private and public sectors have focused on developing a robust below-the-line talent pool—and they have succeeded. Now the New Mexico Film Office is setting its sights on developing our state’s above-the-line talent by investing in the education, development, and creative opportunities of local writers, directors, producers, and actors. If the Office’s initiatives pay off, New Mexico’s future and place in the film industry will not just continue to grow but will improve, providing more creative, more lucrative, and more influential career opportunities in this already thriving job sector.