New Mexico Celebrates $ 623 Million in Film Spending in Pandemic Year | Local News

There is no business like show business, even during a pandemic.

Although productions were delayed and shut down at various times during the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, the film industry generated a record $ 623 million in direct spending in fiscal year 2021, according to State Film Office.

An official from the Film Office said the money generated from these productions went to local economies with $ 623 million, an increase of more than $ 200 million in spending recorded in fiscal year 2020.

The state used financial data from film, television and media productions shot in New Mexico to compile an annual estimate of their spending to justify the production incentives New Mexico offered to the industry.

Among other benefits, filmmakers can take advantage of 25% tax reductions on qualifying expenses for projects shot in New Mexico. Television production companies that provide long-term series to the state can receive 30% discounts.

Despite the loss of nearly three months of production time – July, August and most of September 2020 – due to COVID-19 closures and restrictions, the Film Office has defended its figures for FY21, stressing a variety of factors that have enabled filmmakers to produce content. One of the most important, said an official, has been the rush to resume production once producers have resumed operations.

“Due to the production shutdown, there is a huge bottleneck and demand for content,” state film bureau director Amber Dodson said by phone Monday. “All studios and streamers are scrambling to not only catch up, but create more and more content. And you can’t fit all of that into Los Angeles or New York anymore. “

Although there were only 69 film, television and other media productions in New Mexico in fiscal year 2021 – up from 80 the previous year – the increase in film production budgets means that companies are also spending more money locally, Dodson said.

“A studio manager recently told me that five years ago TV shows averaged about $ 5 million per episode,” Dodson wrote in an email. “Budgets are now approaching $ 10 million per episode.”

His office estimated that these productions spent 40% of those budgets on purchasing goods and services in the local communities where they were filming.

Dodson also said that all productions that were preparing to shoot in the state or were already shooting when the film industry closed in late March 2020 have returned to complete their projects.

Jennifer LaBar-Tapia, director of the Santa Fe Film Office, said when speaking with producers that she found that many wanted to set up projects closer to the Hollywood hub due to the pandemic and fears of shutdowns. borders or other unexpected travel issues.

“Some wanted to work closer to home if needed, where they could jump in a car and be here in 12 hours if they wanted to,” she said.

She said that, based on her own estimates and data from the State Film Office, about $ 190 million of that direct spending went to the Santa Fe economy.

Octavio Marin, vice president of production and operations at Santa Fe Studios, said business is “absolutely picking up.”

The Warner Bros. Roswell, New Mexico is back in the studio for his fourth season of filming, which will last until the summer of 2022, Marin said.

He said he believed that as more companies create streaming series to feed the appetite of stay-at-home audiences who have become accustomed to watching home entertainment during the pandemic, more productions will arrive in the state, and quickly.

“You want to see content – dramas, comedies, horror, romance, documentaries. That’s why everyone creates a lot of content; they need to build libraries,” Marin said. “They have more to do with it. ‘subscribers, they need a lot more content and that will create a lot more jobs [in the industry]. “

The State Film Office estimated that approximately 9,000 New Mexicans were working in the industry in 2021, earning an average salary of $ 56,000 per year. And about 75 percent of the crew working on the productions were New Mexicans last year.

Over the years, the state’s financial incentives have increased the number of film, television and media productions and helped establish the state as a prominent place in the film industry’s popularity contests.

In January, Filmmaker The magazine chose Albuquerque and Santa Fe among the best cities for film workers.

Dodson said New Mexico’s health practices during the pandemic also played a role in attracting film companies to the state.

Industry insiders, including representatives from film unions, launched a task force during the shutdown that wrote a 22-page white paper on how to safely restart productions when the state reopened industry.

The State Film Office now requires film production companies and workers to follow guidelines, which include frequent testing and wearing protective masks for those not getting vaccinated.

Dodson said many producers told him they viewed New Mexico as a “safe place” to work because of the state’s “aggressive actions to mitigate COVID-19.”

She said that to date, the state has performed more than 133,000 tests for the virus among the production company’s staff.

The rate of people testing positive is currently 0.13%, she said.

She said there are currently 33 film, television and media productions working in the state.

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