In a cliff hanger that rivaled any blockbuster suspense thriller, the nail biting, sometimes gut wrenching, emotional roller coaster of our state’s film production saga came to a head this weekend.
First on Friday afternoon when the bad news spread all over the local film community and unfortunately spilled into national media that Governor Susana Martinez vetoed the increased film incentive proposal dubbed the “Breaking Bad” bill, citing lack of comprehensive tax reform as a part of her overall agenda.
Fortunately unyielding advocates for film jobs and the unsung impact of economic growth felt all across the state prevailed to see the most important adjustments to existing state film industry incentives live on.
The torch was carried on for thousands of industry workers and support service businesses in the form of pre-existing Legislative bill HB 641 – ironically titled An Act Relating to the Public Peace, Health, Safety and Welfare, which rapidly became known as the “Zombie” version of the Breaking Bad bill, largely because the amended act contained the very heart of the incentive changes required to bring more long living, qualified television productions to the state and securing unused budget dollars to roll-over into future years for more film production – all the while not impacting state spending.
Because of stalwart efforts on the floor, namely by bill sponsor, representative Antonio “Moe” Maestes, IATSE Local 480 Business Agent Jon Hendry, and driven on by a strong showing of film community support; by way of a public outcry to the Governor’s office, the “Zombie” bill lived to see another day, passing both the house and the senate, narrowly garnering a show of support from the Governor who promised to sign the bill into law as part of an omnibus tax bill which she deems acceptable and including a majority of her tax plan demands.
The cast of New Mexico’s longest running and most world famous production for whom the original film bill was named, was largely unaware of the drama at a charity event held on Saturday evening at Albuquerque Studios, where they had been filming til 4:30 a.m. Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, R.J. Mitte, Betsy Brandt and Bob Odenkirk, took part in the night’s Youth Development Inc. fundraiser which brought in over $28,000 to benefit children and their families right here in New Mexico, in large part to follow aspirations and become educated in film production careers, as spearheaded by Breaking Bad co-star and hometown activist Steven Michael Quezada.
Even the Mayor of Albuquerque, Richard Berry who lavished praise on the show’s substantial local economic impact and world over notoriety was learning at the same time as the cast that the heavily anticipated television production incentives were in fact one day closer to becoming a reality.
Bryan Cranston, who talked at length with reporters, YDI supporters and government officials in attendance spoke volumes about the value and immense talents of New Mexico cast and crew base, reiterating again and again that 90% of film workers on the six year production are New Mexico workers. Later in the evening at a closed door event, show creator Vince Gillagan too praised New Mexico, saying it’s a place, “which I now call my home”.
The passage of new legislation increasing incentives for long term production investment in our state finally raises the flag which New Mexico film advocates have championed for so long, sending the message to competing states and world wide productions that New Mexico Film is “open for business”.
The so called “Breaking Bad” bill is on the Governor’s desk. The most up to the minute reports indicate that she has no intention of signing it in to law.
If you or someone you know have a stake in Film jobs, education, tourism, training, and the myriad effects that benefit the state from image to support service and peripheral business funding – CALL NOW!
Read more about the bill and sign the growing petition calling on the Governor to listen to her constituents here.
UPDATE 3/14/13 NM Film held hostage in compromise debate:
I’m very disappointed in the lack of compromise by the other party, and by the unbalanced approach to our state budget taken by many lawmakers. While the Democrats want me to agree to pay increases for government employees and larger subsidies for Hollywood corporations, they have refused to pass meaningful education reforms to improve student achievement, and they have refused to lower taxes to make New Mexico more competitive to help businesses grow and to create more jobs…They have also refused to pass a bill repealing the law giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, despite my repeated attempts at compromise.
-Governor Susana Martinez 3/13/13
See a breakdown of the “Hollywood Bashing” by New Mexico’s premiere Political Blogger Joe Monahan here.
Mary Ann Hughes, vice president for film and television production planning at the Walt Disney Co., which owns and operates several television networks, told the Journal she is watching the legislation closely.
“It’s a game-changer for us,” Hughes said. “It puts New Mexico as among the top leaders in the world regarding locations for a television series.” -Albuquerque Journal 3/13/13
“Big studio execs ready to move production to New Mexico when “Breaking Bad” bill signed by Governor Martinez” -James Hallinan
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UPDATE 3/2/13: the AP reports:
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – School workers made a show of opposition against Public Education Secretary designate Hanna Skandera as lawmakers consider whether to confirm her appointment by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
But a vote was delayed until sometime next week.
The Senate Rules Committee heard more public testimony on Saturday about Skandera, who’s been in charge of the Public Education Department since Martinez took office in 2011.
Skandera drew opposition from educational unions at Friday’s hearing, and teachers turned out in large numbers Saturday.
Opponents say Skandera doesn’t meet a constitutional requirement for an education secretary to be a “qualified, experienced educator.”
Skandera’s defenders, including some business leaders, say she has broad experience in educational policy although she’s never worked as a public school teacher.
The Senate last rejected a cabinet secretary in 1997, when Republican Gov. Gary Johnson was in office.
The hearing was moved to the Senate gallery to accommodate crowds for the public comment portion. As as a result, the full Senate floor meeting was cancelled.
New Mexico Education Secretary, Hanna Skandera was nominated by Governor Susana Martinez, sans confirmations from the senate, two years ago.
Today the Washington Post has released a scathing story about the secretary’s less than savory dealings with an organization headed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, wherein Bush emails point to “working” with multiple state officials in re-writing education laws to “benefit some of its corporate funders.”
In response, the Democratic Party of New Mexico says, “Susana’s Secretary-designee Skandera is caught in the scandal — students suffer when education goes to the highest bidder.”
Here, in part is what the Post has uncovered:
• FEE provides its donors — including for-profit digital education companies — access to the chiefs. A draft agenda for the Excellence in Action 2011 Summit blocked off two hours for “Chiefs for Change donor meetings.” Another draft agenda for the meeting allocated nearly three hours to “Chiefs for Change donor meetings.” The donors for the summit were the Walton Family Foundation, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Carnegie Corp., Susan and Bill Oberndorf, GlobalScholar, Target, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Microsoft, State Farm, IQity, McGraw-Hill Education, Doris and Donald Fisher Fund, Intel, Pearson Foundation, Apex Learning, ETS, Electronic Arts, Koret Foundation, SMART Technologies, K12, Morgridge Family Foundation, Charter Schools USA and Connections Academy. Demand for donor time was so high that Patricia Levesque wrote that she had to turn down opportunities for the chiefs to meet other representatives from companies.
[Martinez appointee Skandera] Unconfirmed but still on the job – El Paso Times
• FEE staff served as advisers to acting education commissioner Hanna Skandera. FEE, and, by extension, its donors, had great influence over New Mexico legislation. In a Jan., 2011, e-mail, Skandera directs a staffer from the legislature to forward all education bills to FEE’s Christy Hovanetz for edits: “Can you send all Governor’s office ed bill language to Christy, including social promotion?” Another FEE staffer, Mary Laura Bragg, wrote to Skandera, “I’m at your beck and call.”
• The foundation sought to make connections between Skandera (as well as the other Chiefs for Change) and the Hume Foundation for funds for digital learning projects from Hume that “must flow through the Foundation for Excellence in Education as a project-restricted grant.” The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Oct. 21 that Skandera had indeed applied for such a grant, which ultimately could lead to digital learning legislation favorable to FEE funders Connections Academy and K-12 Inc.
• The e-mails indicate that FEE paid for Skandera’s travel, reimbursing New Mexico $3382.91 for her expenses, including trip to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress.
There are at least two sides to every story and often a myriad more modus operandi, even when working from the same playbook, toward the same goal.
The purpose of this very site is to promote any and everyone with an interest in furthering opportunities for New Mexicans through Film, Entertainment and Community Activism. Many such advocates surface and then subside, but something that does not wane is the passion of the people taking up tasks to support New Mexico Film.
Below are the Point and Counterpoint of two very active, if not vocal advocates for New Mexico Film on the Hot Topics of our state governing vs. our collective favorite state industry.
Humanitarian documentary film production is the reason I studied filmmaking. When I came to New Mexico, I met many independent filmmakers struggling financially and working for free and saw Hollywood production companies spending millions on subject matter that didn’t interest me. I became disheartened. However, after noticing Governor Susana Martinez never appointed a chairman for…the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries, I got excited about making Susana Martinez accountable for non-compliance of Film Council bylaws: NMSA 1978, Section 9-15-4.1.
For nearly two years, the NM Governor has stood in her willful defiance of Film Council by refusing to appoint a chairman, failing to meet at least quarterly and failing to report the results of these meeting to Legislature as is mandated. For the last four months, this lawlessness has been made public on the New Mexico Filmmakers Facebook page. Moreover, the following public servants have been repeatedly notified in writing of this very crime: NM Lt. Governor John Sanchez, NM Secretary of State Dianna Duran, NM Attorney General Gary King, NM Director of Boards and Commissions Jeremiah Ritchie, NM Secretary of Economic Development Jon Barela, NM Deputy Director of Constituent Services Henry Varela, NM Film Office Director Nick Maniatis, the NM Legislature along with media at the local, national and international levels. However, it appears that nobody seems to have the courage, ethics or know-how on how to enforce the law at the political level.
Susan Martinez—with her reputation of being a conservative Republican who hates Hollywood—would rather grant her oil friends tax breaks than the film industry. A former Film Council member stated recently that New Mexico lost $300 million in business last year and another $300 million this year as a direct result of Susana’s actions. She took a solo runaway train and deliberately ran it right off the cliff. Many filmmakers and associated businesses have suffered great financial loss due to the changes made in the film industry by Susana without Film Council.
The greatest contribution I could ever make to the NM film industry is to ensure Film Council compliance so that the Governor receives needed counsel and accountability. Word on the street is that anyone who goes against Susana gets fired. When New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis saw the Facebook posts making the Governor accountable for breaking Film Council law, he blocked us on Facebook. My wonder is if Nick enjoys the extra power operating without Film Council, for I cannot fathom why Nick isn’t the one spearheading this effort. The head of New Mexico’s filmmaker union Jon Hendry called the Film Council an “ineffectual vanity council.” Sad.
This matter now stands before the President of the United States of America and the NM Federal Bureau of Investigation. Public servant financial disclosure statements–which are publicly available on the Internet–were posted on this public page; but, since public servants complained, Facebook removed the public information with a warning. Seems New Mexico public servants not only feel they don’t have to comply with Film Council bylaws, by they also believe they don’t have to comply with the Financial Disclosure Act. Time to defend our rights to make politicians obey the law and remain accountable.
Governor Susana Martinez stands 23 months in willful defiance of the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries. My focus is on that. If you read the poster that this thread is attached to, you will see the trail of public servants who enable this crime. What I mean about making a mockery of that, is that it’s so blatantly obvious that it’s a joke.
From New Mexico Federation of Labor President Jon Hendry -
Why are people asking me about the Governor’s Council on film? I sat on that thing under both Johnson and Richardson. In fact I was the longest serving member. Tell me one thing, just ONE that we did in ten years of meetings that made a difference? Governors use these commissions to reward friends and give themselves cover. There are real issues out there in our business. This isn’t one of them.
I’ve been reading the postings on impeaching the Governor over not appointing a film advisory council. Much as I appreciate the enthusiasm, I kind of feel obliged to throw my nickels’ worth in here as the only person who sat continuously on every advisory board from Gov. Johnson to Richardson.
Understand that the reason you form one of these Councils is not to get advice but to have a Board you can point to and say “these people are in the business and they approved it”, so you’re going to appoint people who pretty much agree with you – not those who would question your judgment or decisions in any way. That is the same across all levels of government. These types of commissions are set-up to allow Departments to report and get their news and opinions on record and to give the administration cover. Having a Film Council appointed by the Governor alone is really pointless in making a difference.
On initiating impeachment proceedings – it’s never going to fly as long as at least a third of the House members are Republicans. It’s again pointless.
This talk of a reconstituted film council is just a distraction. If the intent is to highlight the Governors failure then fair enough. But if the intent is to actually get a Council appointed that will make a difference then it’s not only a wasted effort but it’s a waste of resources. The NM Film Office is tasked to administer and staff the council. It’s time consuming wrangling that many people to attend meetings , prepare agendas and take minutes. With the large budget cuts that have resulted in minimal marketing dollars you’re using staff time and resources that will have to come out of already greatly diminished funds. Is this the best use of their time ? If the board was neutral and knowledgeable then yes. An independent oversight of the State’s programs would be beneficial not only to the industry but to the Film Office. However as the Governor appoints and replaces there’s not even the suggestion of independence. It would simply give the Governors office the opportunity to point to the board and say “this body approves of what were doing therefore it must be right” and many will believe it. Frankly I’m surprised there’s no board as it would be of more use to the administration than to the Business.
Posted by Sindicator on September 3, 2012 | Comments Off
By Jon Hendry, President NEW MEXICO FEDERATION OF LABOR, AFL-CIO
Labor Day usually conjures images of the end of summer – one last barbecue, a final trip to the Butte or even just a day off of work to spend time with the people we love.
Yet our picnics, road trips and tailgating parties wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of the men and women who do the work that keeps our communities and our country going – the engineers who design our roads, the police officers, firefighters and prison guards who keep us safe and the small-business owners who sell us our hot dog buns and sunscreen.
Labor Day is a reminder that all of us, whether we are employed or looking for work, are the heartbeat of this country. And over the next few months, we will have a choice between protecting America’s greatest strength – each other – or allowing our voices to be silenced by those with more money, power and influence.
America’s prosperity came about because the people who were the pulse of America were recognized, respected and rewarded. Everyone had a fair shot at getting ahead – because everyone played by the same rules. Good jobs and decent wages led to real economic growth, thriving businesses and strong communities, which led in turn to a better future for our children.
Yet many of our leaders have pushed a starkly different vision for our country’s future.
Wall Street-driven elected officials have fought to keep the rules that allow the most privileged Americans to get ahead by gaming the system, regardless of the consequences for the rest of Americans. It’s a strategy that creates millions in corporate profit while leaving behind foreclosed homes and longer unemployment lines.
Not only does our tax code allow wealthy CEOs to claim a tax break for exporting jobs overseas, it allows them to look forward to paying zero U.S. taxes on the jobs and income moved offshore. The richest 2 percent of Americans are allowed to claim larger and larger tax cuts. Meanwhile, less-fortunate Americans are forced to pick up the tab as Congress votes to end Medicare as we know it and cut benefits for Social Security.
In New Mexico we have seen the lowest job growth in the country under Gov. Susana Martinez, yet there are thousands of state jobs funded but not filled and capital money is still piling up that could be used to fix our critical infrastructure needs and create well-paid jobs.
There is no clearer example of this philosophy than Republican vice presidential pick Paul Ryan. According to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, his budget would deliver a hefty tax cut to the wealthiest Americans while stripping $347 million from health care, education and road repairs in New Mexico alone. Under his plan, the real job creators – our workers and our small-business owners – are out of luck.
The Ryan plan is just one example of why we need to stop rewarding politicians who rig the game for their wealthy donors. The flood of money into our election system has made many politicians more interested in helping those who bankroll their campaigns instead of the rest of us.
Yet is the work of a CEO more valuable than that of a nurse hard at work saving lives? Does an investment banker contribute more to our economy than the engineer who builds safe bridges and roads? I believe in the vision of an America that honors and respects all work and the people who do it.
That is why it is so important for all of us to make our voices heard – to insist that all of us play an important role in our communities and our country. We must elect leaders who really will stand on the side of the people they represent and not those with the deepest pockets.
Over the next few months, we will be hammered on every side by slick TV ads and mailers asking and cajoling us with promises of what they will or won’t do for us. Our job is to take a step back and look at the issues. How do our candidates stand on the things that really matter?
Because in the end, we need leaders who will build shared prosperity and create an economy that works for everyone. Most important, we need leaders who give America’s workers what we need to continue being America’s backbone.
In the ongoing vilification of the Film Industry, opponents say, “the state can’t balance the budget if it doesn’t know what it’s going to be paying out to Hollywood.”
So while film is continually labeled as a drain on the state, big corporations pay less in state taxes than the truly oppressed New Mexican Small Business Owner, oil and gas are subsidised without scrutiny, and a little digging into special interest groups (i.e. campaign contributors), may yield some insight into what else gets special attention and consideration.
Posted by Sindicator on May 10, 2012 | Comments Off
As we’ve been following for you here, the AP now reports:
HOBBS, NM – A scientific ghost town in the heart of southeastern New Mexico oil and gas country will hum with the latest next-generation technology _ but no people.
A $1 billion city without residents will be developed in Lea County near Hobbs, officials said Tuesday, to help researchers test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets.
Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said the unique research facility that looks like an empty city will be a key for diversifying the economy of the nearby community, which after the oil bust of the 1980s saw bumper stickers asking the last person to leave to turn out the lights.
“It brings so many great opportunities and puts us on a world stage,” Cobb told The Associated Press before the announcement.
Pegasus Holdings and its New Mexico subsidiary, CITE Development, said Hobbs and Lea County beat out Las Cruces, for the Center for Innovation, Technology and Testing.
The CITE project is being billed as a first-of-its kind smart city, or ghost town of sorts, that will be developed on about 15 square miles west of Hobbs.
Bob Brumley, senior managing director of Pegasus Holdings, said the town will be modeled after the real city of Rock Hill, S.C., complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new. No one will live there, although they could as houses will include all the necessities, like appliances and plumbing.
The point of the town is to enable researchers to test new technologies on existing infrastructure without interfering in everyday life. For instance, while some researchers will be testing smart technologies on old grids, others might be using the streets to test self-driving cars.
“The only thing we won’t be doing is destructive testing, blowing things up _ I hope,” said Brumley.
Not far from the Texas border, Hobbs has seen new growth in recent years but local leaders have been pushing to expand the area’s reputation to include economic development ventures beyond the staple of oil and gas.
The investors developing CITE were looking for open spaces. Brumley said his group scoured the country for potential sites, “but we kept coming back to New Mexico. New Mexico is unique in so many ways.”
One big plus for New Mexico was its federal research facilities like White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico and Los Alamos and Sandia national labs.
Gov. Susana Martinez joined officials in announcing final site selection for the project, which she hailed as “one of the most unique and innovative” economic development projects the state has seen. She noted that no tax breaks were given for the development. “The only thing they have asked for is guidance,” she said.
Brumley said plans are to break ground on the town by June 30. The initial development cost is estimated at $400 million, although Brumley estimates the overall investment in the project to top $1 billion.
The project is expected to create 350 permanent jobs and about 3,500 indirect jobs in its design, development, construction and ongoing operational phases.
Hobbs, a community of about 43,000 people, currently has two non-stop flights from Houston each day and is working on getting daily service to Albuquerque and Denver.
The mayor said discussions for the new flights have just started but having the research center may bolster efforts to connect Hobbs to more cities.
May 9, 2012
By Robert Redford
Actor, Director, Producer
The Albuquerque Journal published a prominently placed editorial on May 1 that was based on a recent story written by a reporter who, in fairness, requested an interview, on a short deadline, which I was unable to meet as I was out of the country. This editorial portrayed me as an unethical Hollywood interloper who, by inference, had made great personal gain from taxpayer money.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s time to set the record straight.
In February 2008, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs announced that it was purchasing the Los Luceros property. I was not even in the picture. Over some years prior, we had put time into requests from the Richardson administration on how our Sundance programs were conceived and run. That was the extent of it.
A year after the purchase the state requested that we explore whether or not there may be a collaborative model involving the property, which would result in providing programming with a focus on Native American and Hispanic populations in preparing them for careers in film and other aspects of the entertainment industry, which had been growing fast in New Mexico. It seemed a worthy goal, so we began meetings with the state.
Out of these meetings came a Memo of Understanding between Redford Enterprises, Cultural Affairs and the New Mexico Film Office. In May 2009, Gov. Richardson announced the collaboration.
The intent of this relationship was to create and expand training programs in film, arts and the environment at Los Luceros. This, he said, would enable Cultural Affairs to fulfill its dual mission of protecting the state’s cultural heritage, while supplying educational programs to benefit the people of New Mexico.
We began providing and collaborating on programs immediately, with most taking place at Los Luceros — writing and audition workshops, actors labs, directing, cinematography, production and economic development workshops. The highly regarded Sundance Native Program continued its labs and workshops, in New Mexico.
All of this education, job training and career building have been provided free, at no cost to any of the New Mexican participants.
These programs, agreed to in the MOU signed in February 2010, were the operating framework for the state-funded master plan and federally funded architectural designs, building renovations and new construction. The MOU provided for us a priority reservation use of Los Luceros via the Department of Cultural Affairs, and participation in a job-training program funded by the New Mexico Department of Economic Development and the New Mexico Film Office.
In late 2010, as state budget cuts appeared necessary, we were asked to amend the MOU in order to reduce the state financial commitment. We readily agreed. The use of state training dollars was dropped from the revised MOU that we, and the state, signed in December 2010.
This revised MOU became an issue when Gov. Susana Martinez took office. Mind you, it’s the MOU that drops a state funding requirement. We remained in limbo on many aspects of the relationship, and yet, we continued to provide programs at Los Luceros and at other locations.
As of today, Cultural Affairs hasn’t unequivocally said the department will honor either MOU. We were asked to obtain liability insurance, which was in process when they closed Los Luceros.
We continue offering programs in other locations and are exploring alternatives should collaborating with the state prove too political or impossible. I have a long history with the state of New Mexico and I love it here. I try to make a contribution as both a taxpayer and a citizen and will continue down that path with or without the blessing or cooperation of Martinez and her administration.
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.
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.”
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.
On March 21-22, President Obama will travel to Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio to highlight his Administration’s all of the above energy strategy, including his focus on continuing to expand responsible oil and gas development, increasing the fuel economy of the vehicles we drive which will save families money at the pump, supporting renewable energy sources, and investing in infrastructure and research and development, all of which play a central role in increasing our nation’s energy security.
On Wednesday, the President will begin the tour in Boulder City, Nevada where he will visit the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility, the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country with nearly one million solar panels powering 17,000 homes. In Boulder City, he will highlight his Administration’s focus on diversifying our energy portfolio, including expanding renewable energy from sources like wind and solar, which thanks in part to investments made by this Administration is set to double in the President’s first term. The President will then travel to oil and gas production fields located on federal lands outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico, an area home to more than seventy active drilling rigs. While in Carlsbad, the President will highlight the Administration’s commitment to expanding domestic oil and gas production, which has increased each year he has been in office, with domestic oil production currently at an eight year high and domestic natural gas production at an all-time high.
On Thursday, the President will travel to the Cushing, Oklahoma area to discuss his Administration’s commitment to improving and supporting the infrastructure that helps us leverage our domestic resources, while also ensuring these projects are developed in a safe and responsible way. This includes a pipeline that will transport oil from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico, which will help address the bottleneck of oil that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production in the Midwest. In Oklahoma, the President will deliver remarks at a storage yard holding pipes that will be used for the construction of the pipeline. The final stop on the trip will take place at Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio, home to some of the country’s most advanced energy-related research and development.
Don’t cry, kids decorate pics like this all the time…the software comes on their “baby iPads”.
As we’ve been covering for you since the original RFP was released back in August 2011, the then recently appointed face of the New Mexico Tourism Department was poised to launch a new brand of New Mexico to the world…One that perhaps would eventually lend locals the luxury of not having to explain that New Mexico is in fact a part of the continental United States, to everyone from Washington State to Timbuktu.
New Mexico may perhaps be best known as an extra terrestrial landing strip or that dusty land which one passes through en route to another destination, but brand new leadership handpicked and handsomely paid is now at the helm to “rebrand” New Mexico, USA. The rally cry chosen by our new leader in branding, State Tourism Director, Monique Jacobson, to entice the world over to make New Mexico their destination of choice: “Adventure steeped in culture.” Okay. First question, whose culture?
Next, putting the reins of representing New Mexico to the world in the hands of a Texas Co. were enough to ruffle more than just a few local feathers. When Job Creation is touted as being a top priority of the sitting administration, sending a $2M job to a neighboring, tourist destination competitor state was perplexing at best, especially taking into account the plethora of skilled ad agencies all over the home front who no doubt KNOW New Mexico.
Regularly citing a seemingly “gold standard” of criteria, that the Tourism Department herself/itself either devised or adopted, the Texas firm won out over the many locally based firms who applied, even over the few NM firms which allegedly made it into the “final round” of “scoring” despite their in-state “preferential” allowances. Vendor Inc. ultimately won the dough, and apparently unabashed contract, creative and casting control.
Herein lies either the genius or the critical downfall of a campaign that has yet to air, New Mexico is already making news; First in the few rumblings about the Texas award, then almost under the radar the contracting started to go out. Initially with the multi-state (CA, NV, TX, NM) staffed casting outfit based out of Santa Monica, CA, which sent out the campaign devised casting call…(Back to that in a hot minute).
First round of FREE ADVERTISING begins here, where in a state which had worked, and risen to world-renowned ranks as tops in film production the mighty Vendor picked California filmmakers to jet in and out of the state with their own crew to film a weather ravaged four day shoot. The story of “irked” local filmmakers and production houses went from viral to news worthy, then broadcast all around the country painting New Mexico as a state set to advertise themselves without much faith in themselves.
To today and into mañana’a news, as dictated by the aforementioned ad campaign casting specifications, we shall only be represented by the “light-skinned” and fit among us. By these standards not even the woman who is our top elected official need apply to appear in this first round of advertisements requesting that the world take a look at New Mexico as an “Adventure steeped in culture.”
Where New Mexico is already hurting in some circles as appearing steeped in gas & oil interests and enriching corporate culture (see SB9 tax veto here), we’re now a step further to the right to most, elitist/racist or just plain out of touch at best. Because unlike a feature or indie film casting call which may rely on scripted requirements for certain characters – this is destined to be a multi-million-dollar motion picture representation of our great state, broadcast to the world.
All excellent moves if subscribing to the old adage that “any press is good press”, or aiming to flagrantly fly insensitivity in the face of the majority of your product/state’s population, or if politically angling to shine a spotlight on our state leader’s already dubbed war on immigration – good show.
Click here for the adults cast as Caucasian or “light-skinned” Hispanics in the ad, as released by the contracted casting director.
This just in: Expect NM Tourism select, Vendor Inc. to be without comment on this debacle just as they seemed to be in this 2011 Super Bowl bust.
Special thanks to our media “partners” and certain “whispers in the wind” in covering these developments…
UPDATE: Vendor Inc. has issued the following statement to Gabriel Escobar of The Dallas News:
“The focus of our shoot was on showcasing to the country the many amazing experiences and adventures one can have in New Mexico. The casting call you referenced was for the role of “tourists” who could be coming from any number of states. This is the first of many spots which will feature the wide range of people who are drawn to New Mexico.”
-Tom Hollerbach, Managing Director and COO, Vendor Inc.
So, as the statement(s) would suggest, we’ve got it all wrong. The cast are not New Mexicans, they are tourists. Caucasian or “light-skinned” Hispanic tourists.
Perhaps they were actually making special concession in allowing local “lights” to be considered to portray the desirable white market…
While the average annual household income in NM is $43,000, the Governor Martinez Administration appointed Jacobson household weighs in at a hefty $204,000.
Nice work if you can get it. Especially for two young people whose combined work experience equals just over 12 years…most especially convenient for Mr. Jacobson who, according to his Linkedin resume hadn’t worked in five years prior to landing the original, “highly complex” political appointment last July.
It seems that Cabinet Secretary Jacobson’s husband’s glass slipper has turned to brass (a brass ring that is), as he has landed the position of Director of Finance Policy in the New Mexico Department of Finance & Administration.
Though not yet listed on the department website directory of the board, the Office of the Governor’s 2012 Financial Disclosure documents and The Sunshine Portal NM both show a hire date of December 2011 for Andrew Jacobson, just about the time Mr. Jacobson’s plum “Temp Job” was to wrap-up.
For the full article click through here, where you’ll come to find the following gems:
“His wife’s Cabinet position didn’t and shouldn’t have any bearing on his being hired,” said Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford.
“Andrew was the only qualified applicant for a highly complex position and thus the only person interviewed,” he said. “He agreed to take the job knowing it didn’t include benefits and that it would expire by the end of the year.”
The budget division that employs Jacobson is tasked with preparing the governor’s annual budget recommendation to the Legislature. Specifically, Jacobson’s job duties include analyzing state projects and other components of the $5.6 billion budget, Clifford said.
UPDATE 3/2/12: OHI has just obtained the following document, as sent out last month, requesting that state leaders consider utilizing local resources to produce the upcoming NM State Tourism multi-media campaign.
GUILTY – We’re all guilty of corporate chain store shopping and franchise restaurant dinning over the local mom & pop businesses who are struggling to survive in our community.
Does this mean we shall all remain passive in allowing our state funds, though humble by national standards, to follow the same path on a still multimillion dollar scale, by way of whatever cryptic and elusive measures may or may not be ordained?
In what looks a lot like an ever increasing tally of slights to the local film & media industry by the Roundhouse, this particular money train (aka NM State Tourism contract) starts in New Mexico, runs through Texas (to drop off the cash) and only creates local work or pays back to New Mexico what is allocated by the out of state firm.
You don’t get to be the 498,660 ranked website in America (1,411,247 worldwide, insert “lol” here) without recognizing that there IS as much passion and interest as there is talent in this great state and its epic film industry that thousands have worked and lived to embolden over lo these many years.
From those of us who watch and report, to those in the trenches who literally implore the powers that be to lend their support to growing the industry, we all want to know – If we’re truly working to bring productions home, why wouldn’t we produce a production set to represent and draw the world’s attention to us with ample local talent?
IATSE Local 480 Business Agent, Jon Hendry proactively set out to offer his industry know-how and resources to the state’s Governor, Susana Martinez and her applicable cabinet members in the above letter dated Feb. 14, 2012 – which all but begs the root question here: If the industry has the support of the current administration why isn’t it being utilized by it?
YOUR “meager” 2M State Tourism dollars are at work on Job Creation, for out of state companies.
The decision to go with the small and relatively new Texas firm, Vendor Inc., may already be generating some tourism revenue, by way of maybe filling some hotel rooms and buying local meals for the out of state advertising firm and their crew*, when they visit NM to execute our new multimillion dollar marketing campaign.
Too bad factoring small business and peripheral spending locally is not taken into any meaningful account by the current administration (oh wait, that’s only when asserted by the evil film industry – Tourism gets carte blanche on claims of grandeur and bloated assertions of ROI – seeCatch the Kid). And ~again, in this case, any dollars the Texas firm spends were already New Mexico dollars to begin with.
Though beloved by many (including yours truly), even the casting co. hired by the firm to fill roles for the multi-media ad campaign being shot locally, is not New Mexico based.
At least the gig pays ~well, and so long as they pass the “bag test”, it seems a few New Mexicans will be getting paid as a part of this whole shebang right out of the shoot.
*Unconfirmed – duh, this is a blog not the NY Times
Posted by Sindicator on February 8, 2012 | Comments Off
UPDATE 2/10/12: Governor Susana Martinez is urging lawmakers to revisit the tabled bills stating that a “boost to local economies” is at stake. Via Capitol Report New Mexico
Insert Doodlebop bus horn sound here.
In “world’s first and only commercial” Spaceport news, New Mexico Legislators have all but killed a bill that would have limited the ability of space travelers to file suit against manufacturers of parts and equipment used for “inter-galactic” travel, in case of loss or injury.
Las Cruces Senator Mary Kay Papen (D), who introduced the bill says, “I think it will have a slowdown” and calls it a setback, citing a lack of legal protection for Spaceport America suppliers. Furthermore, The Albuquerque Journal reports: Officials claim at least two major companies may otherwise choose to go elsewhere like Texas, Florida or Virginia, where parts manufacturers are not held liable for death or injury when their products malfunction during commercial space travel.
While passenger liability claims options remain open at this time, Spaceport America has unveiled plans for 2013 visitor access.
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, (AP) — Spaceport America visitors would be able to go on behind-the-scenes tours and visit the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space in southern New Mexico.
It’s all part of the visitor experience plan unveiled this week by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. The board of directors reviewed plans to design, build and program the visitor experience.
The plan calls for welcome centers in Hatch and Truth or Consequences.
There would also be a visitor center at the spaceport. Officials say the goal is to immerse visitors in the excitement of the world’s first commercial spaceport built specifically for launching people and payloads into space.
Officials expect more than 200,000 people will visit annually.
The initial visitor experience program is expected to begin operating in 2013, about the time Virgin Galactic plans to begin commercial operations at Spaceport America.
Predictably sour on film, Governor Susana Martinez tells lawmakers at this year’s legislative session that it would be “a waste of time,” to pass a bill along to her proposing lifting the $50M cap on New Mexico Film Incentives, which she worked to impose during the last session.
Martinez says, “I want predictability for the film industry and they have received predictability and I think they really appreciate the fact that there is predictability. It allows us to formulate a budget and balance the budget.”
In the last year alone this now “predictable” stance has led untold numbers of productions, including the likes of Iron Man III – starring Robert Downey Jr., Oblivion – starring Tom Cruise, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and television series The Lying Game to quit New Mexico for more “receptive” states.
While Alasaka and Colorado shoot to redouble their efforts in bolstering their existing incentive programs, states like North Carolina, New Orleans and Texas nab big budget films, local jobs and the media attention that follows them away from New Mexico.
Perhaps bringing to fruition what was forewarned back in November 2011, when representatives of the Governor’s cabinet appeared at an industry event, tasked with proclaiming the Governor’s support for New Mexico Film. At the NMedia State of Film event the Governor’s Cheif of Staff Keith Garnder stated in his address to the crowed that the Governor, “vows to wield a veto pen” on any proposed changes to the current Film Program.
Representative Al Park (D) of Albuquerque disagrees with Martinez’ decision.
“We don’t have a cap on a single incentive in any other industry. We plant incentives all across the board for things all across New Mexico…this is an industry that we know right now is generating a billion dollars in economic activity,”
- Rep. Al Park to KOB-TV
While New Mexico sends millions of dollars out of state to improve create our image around the world, and this ongoing targeting of the Film Industry is racking up losses in jobs and notoriety for the state, neighboring states stand at the ready to take over.
Right next door Texas is wrangling for the top spot in video game production by extending credits akin to their film tax incentives. After handily procuring the production away from New Mexico, North Carolina rides away with thousands of paid extras casting, crew jobs and the influx of income that the blockbuster Iron Man III will bring to their state.
Given the current administration’s stance on film, and the losses that follow, being the resonating image New Mexico puts forth as a still high profile option for production, industry activists and advocates are set to convene at the Roundhouse to lobby state legislators on February 1st for New Mexico Film & Media Day 2012.
But The Lone Ranger is not the only show town…Just as we’ve been diligently following and reporting on the progress of that major motion picture for months now, so too have we kept our nosey to the grindstone to bring you the very good news that the A&E series, which shot its pilot right here in NM last spring, WILL return to shoot its regular season network pickup.
The hour-long original scripted drama Longmire, based on the best selling mystery novel series by Craig Johnson, is scheduled to shoot in New Mexico beginning this spring. ¡Gracias a Dios!
A network press release puts the production in Santa Fe, NM come March.
As New Mexico barely lands on this summer’s top 10 ranking of United States of film production, North Carolina gets to work, while top ranked NOLA capitalizes.
Hollywood’s P3 Update published their list in July which ranked states on an “attractive combination of tax incentives, crew base, talent pool, infrastructure, accessibility, significant production revenue and overall popularity among filmmakers.”
Still no direct word or public appearances from your Governor in support of her purported turnaround in stance, now in favor of the New Mexico Film Industry.
The expected and admitted “hit” NM productions have suffered over the past year at the hands of political targeting by the sitting administration, during the Legislative session in January 2011, has been well in focus around the rest of the country, with even Variety spotlighting the downturn here as recently as October.
So as North Carolina Governor, Beverly Perdue took an active role in wrangling Iron Man 3 away from New Mexico, New Orleans builds tours around its premiere movie making prowess, Colorado is set to re-double efforts and incentives to keep film alive in their state, what say you New Mexico? Governor Susana Martinez remains mum, save her famous epistle to Hollywood and the voices of her cabinet.
The second most responsible Government Office in charge of the standings of our great state in relation to the rest of the nation, nay the world, is the State Tourism Department, which recently laid claims to a $4-5 million “direct overall impact” for their $640,000 spent on a recent campaign built around the long dead and once vilified lore of Billy the Kid – without question.
“the multi-media campaign was pumped right back into the economy and was spent at local hotels, businesses and restaurants”
While New Mexico presently sits on Breaking Bad, one of the most acclaimed and rabidly favored, globally followed, hit scripted television shows ever. The AMC production along with multimillion dollar films, other television productions, a continuous flow of incoming and homegrown independents generate worldwide interest and YES tourism above and beyond the work for local trades, talent and actual boost to multi-county economies.
The very perception of New Mexico to the rest of the world stands to benefit from the cinema scope maintaining a name for the state as a leader in production lends. Still New Mexico Film is given little recognition in that regard and remains in fact the proverbial “bird on a wire”. Subject to a bill calling for an unbiased study to measure the state’s film program’s economic impact – which can either be a blessing or a continued curse. In either case perhaps the standard of intense study should too be imposed on our 36th ranked tourism standing.
Given that the Governor’s chief of staff guarantees there will be no legislation “with an executive message” in the next session come January to alter the existing incentives, which with strong pro-film organization lobbying were left at 25% – however capped at $50M, perhaps an executive message to lift the cap or at least invest even more tangible support in the industry and its thousands of invested New Mexican talent, crews, businesses, support services and students is in order.
Photo Courtesy of the Valencia County News-Bulletin
ICYMI: This is how you do it…Valencia County style. As we told you here the Valencia County News-Bulletin and county officials are wowing us with their attention to and coverage of the upcoming comeback flick of one Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Stand.
It does my movie loving, New Mexican heart good to see my hometown paper publicize our state film action and it almost brings a smile to my gnarly grimacing face to see Belen Mayor Rudy Jaramillo, the Belen City Council and city employees come out to show support for the production which is providing a boost to the local economy and a buzz all over the world for NM.
Publicist for The Last Stand, Sheryl Main tells the paper that she invited Governor Susana Martinez to the set to see the benefits of filming in New Mexico, but did not get any response.