8. Albuquerque, New Mexico
310 days of sunshine. A versatile urban and suburban landscape, perfect for location-multitasking. Numerous equipment houses, such as Albuquerque Lighting and Grip, Clairmont Camera, and Panavision. Production facilities like ABQ Studios, the largest studios in the United States, featuring a 28’ x 73’ x 40’ green screen cyclorama stage. Albuquerque is well-equipped for film and television productions of all sizes.
As per the New Mexico state incentives, productions that qualify in Albuquerque receive 25 to 30 percent credit on all New Mexico goods and services, with no minimum spend. New Mexico also offers a film crew advancement program, or FCAP, providing crew members opportunities to—you guessed it—advance to the next level in their departments. The state reimburses productions using FCAP a whole 50 percent of the crew member’s salary, in addition to the 25 percent to 30 percent incentives.
The years 2011 to 2014 have seen a 69-percent increase in film-permitted days—perhaps due to the ease of the process. Albuquerque features a one-stop system where representatives from various city departments come together to discuss and sign off on the permits.
No wonder Albuquerque has seen a huge growth in production—even after Breaking Bad, which effectively put the city on the cultural map over the past six years. 2014 saw the production of Better Call Saul (the prequel for Breaking Bad), Blood Father with Mel Gibson, and Sicario with Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro, along with other projects. It’s also the location for cult web series Enter the Dojo from writer, director and lead actor Matt Page. Enter the Dojo centers on Office-like exploits in an Albuquerque martial-arts dojo run by Master Ken (Page), who pronounces all other martial arts to be bullshit compared to his Ameri-do-te. The show has now finished its second season and has a booming web presence.
Page hails from Maine originally, but, after a detour in Los Angeles, attended Santa Fe University’s film program, and found a new home in Albuquerque. “When I graduated, shows like Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight were in production. The Albuquerque Studios had been built; the film incentive program was picking up steam,” he explained. “I got a couple lines in a feature, got into SAG and started a small production company. I’ve been working in some realm of the entertainment business ever since I graduated in 2005, and consider myself very lucky. I love it here.”