Muhamed Abdelhack covers business and economy for The Paper. He is a communications and journalism graduate of UNM.

Film entertainment is an industry that generates billions of dollars annually across the U.S. and delivers a significant economic impact to industry hub locations. It is estimated that in 2019 alone, the industry generated over $35 billion dollars nationally and here in New Mexico, contributed over $575 million into the local economy. Beyond revenues generated and overall economic impact, the film industry also helps to support local ancillary businesses while also attracting supporting businesses into the New Mexico market. 

Over the last year, five major production service support businesses have located or expanded to new facilities in New Mexico to be a part of the rapidly growing film and television industry.  “Incentivizing the film industry is so much more than just bringing the big studios, the stars, or the above the line crew to our state,” said Alicia J. Keyes, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Economic Development Department. “It’s about established businesses headquartered elsewhere coming to New Mexico to create jobs.”

Those “established businesses” include Crafty Apes, a full-service visual effects company with offices in six major cities, which opened a 2,000 square foot facility in Albuquerque last year. Production Resource Group and Keslow Camera have also found their way to the Duke City in order to get ahead of the growth of the New Mexico film industry. “With the film industry booming in New Mexico, our strategy was to expand our business in order to be on the ground to serve our clients and the various productions we are working on,” said Chris LeDoux, Crafty Apes co-founder.

Established local businesses are also finding success in partnering with the film industry to deliver a broad range of production services. Southwest Picture Cars is a local company that has been providing an array of stock vehicles as well as technicians and mechanics since 2015. “Our business came out of a need for vehicle fabrication and overnight repair. And still, to this day, there is no one else that does what we do,” said the owner of Southwest Picture Cars and Santa Fe native Jay Vigil. Other businesses riding shotgun alongside the growing film industry include hospitality, personal fitness trainers, animal trainers, costume shops and even art galleries where they rent their art for use in production and have it returned for sale. It’s a classic trickle-down effect. “There are all kinds of objects, material goods, makers and creators that are employed when a production comes to town,” said Amber Dodson, Director of the New Mexico Film Office, in an interview with KRQE.

The New Mexico Film Office is working on initiatives to connect services offered through the local business community with film and production studios. It’s a part of their broader mission to continue to build on the pride of having New Mexico so heavily represented in TV and film productions and to help establish a sense of individual and professional community. As pandemic restrictions ease, the film office has announced that seven new productions have either started or will start within the next few months.

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Muhamed Abdelhack covers business and economy for The Paper. He is a communications and journalism graduate of UNM.