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New Mexico steadfast on movie incentives after death

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SANTA FE, NM (AP) – New Mexico lawmakers expressed almost unhindered support for state tax incentives for the film industry during a public hearing Tuesday, following the shooting death on last month of a director of bullet photography on the set of a western filmmaking.

New Mexico offers a 25-35% rebate on state spending on video production, which helps filmmakers large and small to buy into their work.

At the hearing, state economic development officials and consultants presented analysis showing eight times more profit to the local economy for every tax dollar spent on the film tax credit. Appropriations for film productions were estimated at $ 109 million for the year ending June 2021 and $ 52 million the year before.

“DNP – don’t panic. New Mexico supports the film industry, ”said Democratic State Representative Moe Maestas, amid discussions on how to financially strengthen the local film industry. His favorable comments were echoed by several other lawmakers in the Democratic majority.

The producers of “Rust” – where a gun fired during a rehearsal by actor Alec Baldwin killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured a director – signed up to receive a refund from the state, but they are unlikely to collect one after filming stops.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the October 21 death on a film set that had inexperienced crew members, apparent safety breaches and a serious labor dispute. Authorities say Baldwin believed he was handed a gun without live ammunition before firing during a rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside of Santa Fe.

Workplace safety was not discussed at Tuesday’s legislative hearing, and officials were careful not to directly mention “Rust.”

Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office, noted that legislative reforms in 2019 offered greater incentives to film production companies that demonstrate long-term commitments to New Mexico through a 10-month contract. years on a qualified production facility. Netflix and NBCUniversal have obtained this “film partner” status, which lifts the cap on annual production discounts.

“These agreements certainly create long-term sustainability for this industry,” said Dodson. “So we’re no longer a flash-in-the-pan place to shoot a western. We are a hub in an ecosystem that is long term and sustainable.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a strong supporter of the film industry, has indicated she will wait for additional facts in the “Rust” investigation before considering changes to state regulations.

The New Mexico Film Office recently began requiring a written pledge from filmmakers seeking financial incentives to follow industry safety guidelines.

Several companies came together to finance and produce “Rust,” including Baldwin’s El Dorado Pictures. The film, which is based on a story by director Joel Souza and Baldwin, was funded in part by Las Vegas-based Streamline Global, which describes its business model as “acquiring films with certain tax benefits” that can ” reduce the owner’s federal government. income tax payable on income from other sources.

BondIt Media Capital, an independent film financier, also funded “Rust”.

Leon Forde, managing director of video consulting firm Olsberg SPI, said the incentive for local New Mexico film production is among the most generous in the United States.

State Representative Larry Scott de Hobbs, a Republican in the legislative minority, rejected the new economic study and suggested New Mexico may be spending too much on a film industry that directly employs fewer than 8,000 people. .

“My fear here is that we sent the foxes to count the chickens,” Scott said.

Film production spending climbed to nearly $ 624 million for the year ending June, an unprecedented high since the introduction of the film tax rebate in 2003.


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