Recently, I spent the day as a background actor on the set of Longmire, a Netflix series that has been shooting in New Mexico for the last 5 years. There are currently eight active TV series and six movies shooting in New Mexico. Clearly, the film industry is working here, even as New Mexico’s overall economy is facing difficulties.
There are many conflicting views of the film industry here, so I wanted to see the process for myself. The first myth that was quickly dispelled was that this is easy work – it’s not. The second was that most of these jobs are held by out-of-towners – they are not. In fact, the Longmire crew is made up of over 90% local New Mexicans who have impressively worked their way up in the industry. This is true for other TV series filmed in New Mexico as well – that’s a lot of jobs.
I met many of the hundreds of New Mexicans that are employed because of Longmire. I made it a point to ask how the film industry has impacted their lives, and they were excited to point out that they were proud union members and have truly been given a shot at success through the film industry, which provides good wages and benefits. Just when I thought I was intruding on their time, they graciously thanked me, again and again, for supporting the film industry. New Mexicans working in the film industry are bright, hard-working, and they are part of the creative sector that diversifies and grows our economy.
From creative positions like writers and directors, to set-builders and truck drivers, the film and television industry offers exciting 21st-century careers that are available today, in New Mexico! If we are making critical investments in jobs for the future, we need to ensure that we are focused on results that work while concentrating on industries that give New Mexico’s young people not only a chance to learn here, but, more importantly, the opportunity to stay here.
Our beautiful landscapes, multicultural population, ideal weather and lighting, unique locations, and our storytelling tradition, all enhanced by targeted incentives, will continue to land New Mexico great productions. This is the type of opportunity for economic growth we should be pursuing; not lowering wages to attract jobs. As a member of the NM House of Representatives, I will continue to support innovative programs that create exciting jobs for New Mexicans, and I hope my colleagues will join me.
PS: Keep an eye out for me in one of this year’s episodes of Longmire!
NM State Representative, District 26