New Mexico Soundstage Investment Promises More Film Production

Soundstage facilities, an increasingly in-demand component of film production, are at the heart of New Mexico’s growing reputation as a destination for ambitious studios.

Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office, says that while locations from “the mountains of Montana in ‘Big Sky’ to the streets of Manila in ‘The Cleaning Lady’” make her state ideal for filming, what’s crucial is filmmakers’ access to interior production space. “We understand that stage space has been a struggle, not only in New Mexico,” she says.

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In fact, that’s what initially caused Netflix to lead the charge in making New Mexico a Hollywood away from Hollywood; in 2018, they purchased Albuquerque Studios, a 28-acre site where “Better Call Saul” and “Hell or High Water” completed production. In addition to that facility’s eight soundstages, the streamer employs workers at third-party properties outside Albuquerque, says a Netflix spokesperson.

Of the now 21 qualified production facilities that New Mexico film partners Netflix, NBCUniversal and 828 Productions are incentivized to use as part of the state’s generous tax credit, 12 are soundstages. That number will likely only increase as the Land of Enchantment continues to enchant filmmakers.

For 828 Productions, films like Ryûhei Kitamura’s “The Price We Pay” mark just the beginning; three more of their properties have recently been deemed QPFs. “We’re committed to building out soundstages and support facilities, as well as a workforce and infrastructure that can handle all the exciting new projects coming into the state,” says Todd Lundbohm, founder and CEO of the Las Cruces-based company. “We will begin construction on multiple stages over the next several months, with a focus on trying to outpace demand.”

Both accommodating existing sites and building anew are on the table for an increasingly film-friendly state, says Dodson. “We are always actively looking for more stages and spaces we can retrofit to production space to better accommodate the growth of the industry.”

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