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Inroads or outliers: NMFilm Community responds to Gov. casting and resources

Posted by on May 9, 2012

There seemed to be some promising developments between one big government office and our own International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees after the dust-up in March, wherein the NM Dept. of Tourism and New Mexico dollars went virtually ALL OUT OF STATE (save for approx. 6 actors and 2 crew members, and a 4 day local shoot).

Then IATSE 480 business agent Jon Hendry released this statement regarding the possible mends in going forward with the current administration giving NMFilm a fair shake, however…

A new row is brewing as another branch of our government too appears set to utilize out of state film resources and is requesting non-union talent to shoot state PSAs.

The latest word from Jon Hendry on the matter:

So the DOT are shooting a spot as they do regularly ( or it could be the MVD but whomever it’s your tax dollars) and from what I’m being told they’re bringing in an out-of-state Director and possibly a DP. They’re also casting only non-union actors. Now I’m finding this all a little hard to believe, as I sat in the Govenor’s office and i was personally assured, by the Deputy Chief of Staff, that every effort would be made to ensure this didn’t happen again, so for now I’m assuming it’s all a rumor.

There are some fine commercial directors here, as good as anyone that could be brought in. Even if there wasn’t, how would our people ever get better without the opportunities that in-State Government commercials allow ? I actually know of what I speak. In a previous life, when I was the Director of Marketing for then Gov. Richardson, we shot dozens of spots without ever bringing in anyone from out of State including the Directors and we somehow made the spots on budget and Union. Including the iconic ” You drink,you drive, you lose ” and the national award-winning ” You’re in the right state of mind, just the wrong State “

We viewed commercials as training grounds and showcase opportunities for New Mexico talent both in front and behind the camera. After all, if the State won’t help who will ?

Rather than just complain here’s a couple of concrete suggestions ; first here’s what I will be told ” Why do you care.? They are using your guys ? ” I care because I’m a New Mexican. Bringing in ATL is just wrong. Putting BTL locals on doesn’t make this right. As I’ve said, I will be an advocate, but the real key here is the film office. If they ask through the Governor that all departments send there RFP’s over so they can be emailed to interested New Mexicans who register with them, then at least the production community will have an opportunity to bid. They could also put on a job fair for State agencies which brings together possible clients and vendors. I used to bring in all the PIO’s from the State for a monthly meet and show them examples of New Mexican work, took them to sets, introduced them to our peeps. It worked.

Regardless if New Mexicans are not getting hired, we-the production community- need to fix this. I need to fix this. Because frankly I’m a big fan. I have had the privilege of working with many of you and with many outsiders. We take a back seat to no one.
Jon Hendry

In the meanwhile, today the Albuquerque Journal reports, “Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration is laying the groundwork for a wide-ranging study of New Mexico’s film rebates that it hopes will put to rest the debate over the program’s effectiveness.”

Full story here.

We have to wonder if the study will aim for a balanced look or simply take further aim at dismantling the industry which this administration has been so notorious for. Albuquerque has fallen from NUMBER ONE in the nation for film production to third and the state as a whole has fallen from third to NINTH under Martinez’s relatively short rule.

Study or target no study the numbers of productions which are fleeting and fleeing continue to mount, from Django Unchained in Louisiana, to Iron Man and Hunger Games in North Carolina, where Government offices actively work for film jobs and notoriety for their state residents.

New Mexico presently sits on the bench with infighting while neighboring states, previously daunted by the New Mexico’s top ranking in film were falling away, others are ramping-up as our reign is loosening and slipping away.

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Comments (4)

  • Reportedly this project has an unusually large budget for a PSA and will start shooting next week. Also a Hollywood Director and D/P have been hired by the locally owned advertising agency (Vaugn Wedeen Kuhn http://www.vwk2.com/VWK_Firm.html) that landed the DOT contract.

  • I occasionally receive interesting feedback on my postings both on and off line. I just had an interesting phone call in which I was mildly chastised for promoting NM Directors. I think the gist of the conversation was that my people should feel privileged to work with theses great out of state directors. Frankly, I’ve looked at some of their work and it’s not any better than what we’ve been producing here for years. As Sterling Grant pointed out Half Life just completed a spot for NMDOT where the entire above and below the line crew and talent were New Mexicans. Dave Roberts over at Southwest has worked with some of the biggest advertisers in the world for over 20 years – spots that have run nationally in major campaigns. Charlie O’Dowd and I did several award winning commercials for the State including the best tourism commercial of 2004 as judged by our peers in all 50 states. Lora Cunningham’s recent Addy award winning PSA’s are empathetic and touching while using real fire fighters and teachers. There are many other talented New Mexicans and I’ve got to believe that part of the problem is their work is scattered and hard to compare side by side with the so called “Cali talent”. Here is another suggestion in addition to my two others form last night. The Film Office should host a website with just New Mexico produced and directed spots in the same way they’ve made shorts & features made by new Mexicans available. This could be forwarded on when inquiries are made early in the process. It would also be available to NM companies and governmental. Entities who wanted to browse our availability. Our work is fine, our people talented, our resources readily available and our infrastructure as good as any between the coasts. There is no reason why we can’t shoot more commercials here and there sure as hell isn’t any reason why they can’t be made and directed by New Mexicans.


  • If Jon is speaking of the new DOT spots that were recently shot here this is all just rumor and isn’t true. The commercial was locally produced, directed, acted and posted here…all by New Mexicans.

    Sterling Grant 3,

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