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The National Hispanic Cultural Center throws its hat in the ring by joining the fledgling film production industry.
Margie Huerta, executive director of the NHCC, told the NHCC board on Thursday that the center was rolling out its “Film, TV and Radio initiative”.
“We strongly believe that the creative media industry creates so many opportunities in film, television and radio,” Huerta said. “We are very lucky to have the space and the equipment here.”
The program aims to promote the film, television and radio facilities already available to the NHCC. In doing so, its annex building, just southeast of 4th Street and Avenida Cesar Chavez, will become “Estudio Cuarto”.
Huerta says the initiative goes hand in hand with the center’s mission.
“We have the capacity for broadcast and radio and now cinema,” she said. “For me, it is important to think about how we can secure the future of OCNC. We can think more conscientiously about renting this space to interested people. It already seems to be quite interesting about it.
The annex building previously housed performing arts sets and is currently being evacuated. According to the NHCC, the building measures 28,500 square feet and can be used as a film studio, as well as a mixed-use creative space.
Huerta also pointed to the television studio space inside the NHCC’s Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts.
It was built in 2004-05 and has a television studio, as well as a green room and a post-production studio.
Huerta says there are also three rooms available for movie premieres.
And inside the Intel Center for Visual Arts, built in 1999, there is space for a satellite/broadcast/radio studio. The center has a broadcast booth and green room, as well as a multipurpose classroom and computer lab.
Huerta also plans to partner with Albuquerque Film Bureau, New Mexico State Film Bureau, Albuquerque Public Schools, University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College and Netflix.
“We need to continue these partnerships in education,” she says. “I realized that Netflix was looking for a space to rent or lease. We want to be that place for them. We have a nice facility.
This is not the first time the NHCC has put forward plans to use its annex building.
In July 2015, NHCC entered into a memorandum of understanding with Central New Mexico Community College on the establishment of the National Hispanic Arts Institute.
The deal never went through as it was slated to open in the fall of 2017.
The NHCC is the latest entity to create a venue for the film industry in New Mexico.
Edit House Productions recently expanded its own film studio in Rio Rancho.
Ed Smith, co-owner of Edit House Productions, said its location will add more options for the film industry, as well as the company itself.
For 22 years, Edit House has been making documentaries and long format videos.
Smith said that for some of its productions, Edit House often struggled to find studio space for film projects, so the company decided to expand.
In early August, Cinelease reached an agreement in which I-25 Studios in North Albuquerque will become Cinelease Studios.
Cinelease has been in New Mexico since 2007.
More than just studio space, the former I-25 Studios has a stage area of 104,000 square feet and will provide filmmakers with 38,000 square feet of rig space; 39,000 square feet of newly renovated executive production and office space; additional room for storage, painting, accessories, wardrobe, make-up, catering; and an abundance of parking.
The interior amenities are surrounded by acres of workable backlot.
Cinelease Studios is expected to offer in-house production services similar to those of the six other studios it runs across the country.
In the past fiscal year, the motion picture industry brought in $855.4 million in direct expenditures.
Currently, the state movie incentive program offers tax credits ranging from 25% to 35% of qualifying expenses in the state of New Mexico.
The Rural Development Credit, which incentivizes a production to film at least 60 miles outside of the Bernalillo County and Santa Fe corridor, has been a game changer in attracting productions.
Huerta told the board it was time for the NHCC to rethink its assets and put them to good use.
“To have that kind of space that can propel us forward and secure our future,” she says. “That’s the next step.”