6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
ABQ Trolley Co., which offers open-air trolley tours of famous Breaking Bad locations at $65 a pop, is just one local business still benefiting from a smash TV hit that chose Albuquerque over L.A. due to ABQ’s 25-30 percent refundable tax credit, with no minimum spend. The next big deal production could be the Margot Robbie-starring 1930s gangster saga Dreamland, which filmed in ABQ in fall and was expected to employ approximately 100 New Mexico crew members, 18 New Mexicans in principal roles, and 225 New Mexico extras, according to the Film Office. Ann Lerner, Director of ABQ’s Film Office, attributes the inflow of production to a concerted effort at cutting red tape and one-stop film permitting. “The state also offers a unique Film Crew Advancement Program (FCAP), which gives productions a 50 percent reimbursement of a crew member’s wages when this on-the-job training advances their skill set,” she said.
Like so much of the Southwest, ABQ is particularly proud of its long, storied history: Lerner points out that Thomas Edison’s company came to Isleta Pueblo, a tribal community 13 miles south of ABQ, in 1897 to shoot 50 seconds of footage of Native American children filing out of a one-room schoolhouse. The city’s 40-year-old mayor, Tim Keller, whom Lerner describes as “extremely film friendly” talks up not only the city’s crew base and good-paying jobs on offer, but also the community’s diversity, exquisite scenery and 310 days of sunshine, painting a picture of work-life balance that prospective newcomers should appreciate.