Government Incentives-New Mexico

This Oct. 8, 2018, file photo shows the entrance to ABQ Studios in Albuquerque, N.M.

(The Center Square) – When it comes to places to live and work as a movie maker during these economy-busting COVID-19 times, Hollywood’s out.

Albuquerque’s in. So is Santa Fe.

For the third year in a row, Albuquerque has been named the top large city in “Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker” by MovieMaker Magazine for 2021. In the small cities and towns category, Santa Fe finished second.

New Mexico, said Tim Molloy, editor-in-chief of MovieMaker Magazine, “has become a major film and TV hub that still looks to have astonishing potential.”

Albuquerque and Santa Fe, he added, “are very attractive draws for anyone looking for natural beauty, culture and affordability – and thanks to huge investments by Netflix and NBCUniversal, among others, industry professionals no longer have to choose between quality of life and career opportunities.”

Those are just the latest movie and TV production splashes in Albuquerque – where Netflix has ambitious multibillion dollar plans. Netflix’s Albuquerque Studios is “the home to a slew of shows and films, including the fourth season of “Stranger Things,” the magazine said.

“It isn’t all Netflix, either,” MovieMaker said. “NBCUniversal’s state-of-the-art TV and film studio, announced in 2019, is expected to bring a production spend of $500 million over the next decade.”

Santa Fe, the magazine said, was the location for the movie “The Harder They Fall,” deemed “just the latest high-profile shoot in Santa Fe, where other recent productions include Paul Greengrass’ “New of the World,” starring Tom Hanks and “Cop Shop” with Gerard Butler.

New Mexico’s film incentives had a starring role, the magazine said.

“There’s up to a 35 percent tax credit, and New Mexico is building the moviemakers of the future with its Film Crew Advancement Program, which provides 50 percent wage reimbursement for up to 1,040 hours of on-the-job training of New Mexico residents,” MovieMaker said.

Those film incentives, however, have come under attack by critics who contend it gives out-of-state companies a blank check to make movies and get reimbursed for costs. Netflix has free rein, said Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, an Albuquerque economic policy think tank, because it doesn’t face a cap to its tax credits.

Proponents point to increased jobs and diversification of the economy as pluses as well a boost to the state’s tourism, with the film industry providing more than 9,000 jobs with an annual wage of about $56,175.

MovieMaker determined the winners using surveys, research on tax incentives, recent productions, and personal visits to most of the locations on the list, as well as the best available information on how these locations are coping with the pandemic.

The top 10 big cities, in order, were Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Montreal, Miami, Boston and Calgary, Alberta.

New Orleans headed the top list of small cities and town, followed by Santa Fe, Pittsburgh, Savannah and Victoria, British Columbia.