There’s zero doubt that film and television production in New Mexico is continuing to rise. According to the state Film Office, New Mexico hosted 72 film and television productions in the 2021 fiscal year, which ended in June. And the rest of this year looks even more packed. But there’s a looming roadblock that could end movie studio production here in the state—and all over the country as well.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, is calling for a general strike among its 60,000 workers. IATSE represents nearly 100 “below-the-line” trades, from set builders to prop makers to electricians to transportation to lighting techs. IATSE 480, the New Mexico chapter, has more than 1,600 employees currently working on a dozen or so different projects around the state.
The labor union is currently embroiled in a fight with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The union’s “Hollywood Basic Agreement” with AMPTP expired on July 31. It was briefly extended into September as negotiations continued. But IATSE and the movie studios failed to come to an agreement on a range of issues, including proper compensation for “new media” (computers, streaming, downloads, websites) and excessive working hours. At issue here in New Mexico is the “Area Standards Agreement,” a separate contract covering 23 local unions outside of Los Angeles. IATSE is asking its members to vote on a strike covering both agreements. A vote is expected to be made and announced between Oct. 1 and Oct. 3.
HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax and BET are not affected, as they are under a separate contract that does not expire until Dec. 31, 2022. Of course, the main producers in New Mexico—Netflix and CBSUniversal—are not among that list and would stop production immediately if the strike went through. If the members vote to strike, they could walk off the job by Monday.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center continues its free community film series inside the Wells Fargo Auditorium (1701 Fourth St. SW). Las Razones del Corazón (The Reasons of the Heart) is screening as part of the “Parejas Creativas (Creative Couples)” series, showcasing the films of director Arturo Ripstein and screenwriter Paz Alicia Garciadiego, who have been working together since 1986. Ripstein, who began his career under the mentorship of Luis Buñuel, is considered one of the greatest Mexican filmmakers. His creative partner and wife, Garciadiego, is an award-winning screenwriter. Las Razones del Corazón is a re-interpretation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary set in present-day Mexico City. Emilia, a middle-class housewife, feels burdened by the mediocrity of her life. One day, she loses the two things that make it all bearable—her lover and her credit card—and comes to a fateful decision. The film screens on Friday, Oct. 1 at 6pm. The NHCC recently received a $50,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to support its Community Film Program, so expect plenty more films from Hispanic and Latinx directors in the future.