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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Despite the coronavirus pandemic that led to a shutdown for months in film production, the show did go on in New Mexico.
The New Mexico Film Office announced Monday that this fiscal year, which began in July 2020, broke records in the state, with film and TV productions spending roughly $623 million. An estimated 40% of production budgets are spent on procuring goods and services from New Mexico businesses, according to the state.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham touted the numbers, saying the productions would otherwise have been shot elsewhere had it not been for the state’s crew base, stunning locations, and film incentive program.
“As New Mexico opens this summer and production ramps up, now is the time to ensure we remain invested in the New Mexico film and television industry, as it is key to our state’s recovery and to diversifying New Mexico’s economy,” she said in a statement.
Earlier this year, NBCUniversal marked the opening of its production hub near downtown Albuquerque. It joined Netflix, which has plans to expand its footprint on the southern edge of the city. Both have received millions of dollars in state and local economic development funds as incentives for locating in New Mexico.
An estimated 9,000 New Mexico residents work in the industry with an average wage of over $56,000 annually, according to the state. About three-quarters of below-the-line crew and cast members involved in productions over the last year were residents.
Production was halted for about one quarter of the fiscal year because of the pandemic. Since resuming in September 2020, the state saw 26 films, 24 television, and 19 additional media productions. During that time, the COVID-19 positivity rate among crew and cast remained low, averaging about 0.1%.
Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office, said there are more productions in the pipeline for the remainder of the year and well into 2022.
“We expect this growth to continue as we work to expand the ecosystem to include a larger crew base, expanded sound stage infrastructure, and increased post-production, visual effects, and multimedia production,” she said in a statement.