Big Cities: 8. Albuquerque, New Mexico
“The versatility of the landscape, the endless textured locations, the gorgeous light—you can shoot year-round and save a lot of money,” says Hannah Macpherson, creator of the AwesomenessTV series T@gged and the 2016 feature Sickhouse, of Albuquerque.
With its generous 25-30 percent refundable tax credit with no minimum spend, Albuquerque maintains its stronghold in the Southwest. Recent film shoots included Soldado (the sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario), Horse Soldiers starring Chris Hemsworth, and the British-produced Furthest Witness. Television projects included Better Call Saul and Seth Rogen’s AMC series Preacher.
Chris Boone, writer/director of the feature Cents, says, “Albuquerque is well-known for its crew base and studios, but filmmakers outside of the city are unaware of how strong our [acting] talent is. Albuquerque-based actors continue to appear in key roles in Hollywood studio films, Sundance breakouts and critically acclaimed television series every year.”
This talent pool is fed by New Mexico’s Film Crew Advancement Program, training crew on the job and encouraging their advancement. Indeed, moviemakers can count on strong and compassionate official support: The film office was a finalist for the Location Managers Guild International’s Best Film Commission honor in 2016.
An exciting new addition to the scene was the inaugural Indigenous ComicCon in 2016, featuring indigenous creators of all art forms. That event adds more diversity to a lineup that already includes the Pueblo Film Fest, the New Mexico Italian Film & Culture Festival and the Southwest Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The Albuquerque Film and Music Experience counts Robert Redford on its board. And nontraditional festival Movies and Meaning aims for a less violent world through storytelling.
In sum: “There are definitely careers to be had in New Mexico,” says Macpherson. “As long as you can still get to L.A. when you need to—which is less than a two-hour flight.”