New Mexico, location of Baldwin’s filming, plays a key role for Hollywood
SANTA FE, NM, October 24 (Reuters) – The dusty desert landscapes of New Mexico provided the perfect backdrop for Hollywood westerns, but the state has also served as a filming location for everything from drug trafficking drama to drug “Breaking Bad” to science fiction -fi mystery “Stranger Things.”
New Mexico’s role in television and film came to light last week when cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was gunned down on the set of “Rust,” a western that was set in Bonanza Creek. Ranch outside of Santa Fe. Actor Alec Baldwin fired the propeller pistol that killed Hutchins after learning it was unloaded, authorities said.
“Rust” was just one of many projects being filmed in the state, which has become a hub for Hollywood by offering producers a generous 25-35% refundable tax credit. Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) NBCUniversal have established production studios in Albuquerque.
A pool of experienced workers helped attract Hollywood to the state, according to filmmakers and television executives. About 9,000 people living in New Mexico work in the industry, earning an average salary of $ 56,000, according to the New Mexico Film Office.
Bill Horn, a set decorator who has worked on projects for Netflix, Sony Corp (6758.T) and Paramount Pictures from ViacomCBS Inc (VIAC.O), has witnessed the expansion in recent years.
When he joined Local 480 of the International Alliance of Stage Employees (IATSE) union over ten years ago, it had fewer than 600 members. Today it has over 1,500 members, he said.
“It’s growing up a lot,” said Horn, who is currently working on Fox’s drama “The Cleaning Lady”. Local educational options for specialized film work have broadened, he said, and new learnings have been discussed. “We’re pretty desperate for training,” he said.
Other projects underway in the state include the Netflix series “Trigger Warning” and “Dead for a Dollar” with Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe and Rachel Brosnahan. Forty-eight movies and TV shows were produced in New Mexico in September, according to state statistics.
Spending on film and television production hit a record $ 623 million in the state from July 2020 to July 2021, the film bureau said. Some politicians have complained about offering tax breaks to Hollywood corporations.
CAMERAS CONTINUE TO ROLL
The Bonanza Creek Ranch, where filming for “Rust” was suspended, has been used as a Hollywood setting for decades since Jimmy Stewart’s “The Man From Laramie” in 1955 and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in 1968.
The sprawling site features five different sets, including a 24-building town with an Old West-style saloon, smithy, train station, and barn, as well as roaming cattle.
More recent productions include Tom Hanks’ film “News of the World” from last year.
A day after the “Rust” accident, cameras were rolling to capture night scenes on the ranch for another project. The site also offers movie-related tours and rental options for private parties and corporate retreats.
Besides the ranch, sound stages abound in the area. Netflix operates one of the largest after acquiring the studios in Albuquerque, where the AMC network had filmed “Breaking Bad” in 2018. Two years later, the streaming giant announced that it would expand the facility and promised to spend $ 1 billion on production in the state.
Since the “Rust” tragedy, the media have reported dissatisfaction with the working conditions on this set. People who worked on other projects in New Mexico said the sets still followed strict safety and security protocols and were stunned at how the shooting could have happened.
“Everything is in place so that doesn’t happen,” said Jesse Casias, who builds sets. “There is no reason for this.”
About 200 industry workers, from costume designers to prop makers and scouts, gathered on Saturday night for a candlelight vigil for Hutchins in Albuquerque. Many spoke of the feeling of family that develops during the long hours spent on sets.
Actor Jon Hamm, who is filming in the nearby town of Belen, said he and his “Mad Men” co-star John Slattery attended the vigil “to support our community.” Slattery, who is directing the new film, said his team members were close friends of Hutchins.
Others said they felt the loss even though they had no direct connection to Hutchins. “It’s just a sad day for everyone,” said Horn, the set’s decorator. “Hearts are broken.”
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Daniel Wallis
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