Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

10-1 Abq Makes A-List

MON, 11-01-07

SANTA FE - Albuquerque says it has made the A-List when it comes to attracting blockbuster film projects. That appears to be correct, so let's give the Duke City a big hand.
That's big enough. Let's not overdo it. This is a cutthroat business and other states are hot on our heels, especially Arizona, which is hopping mad about losing "3:10 to Yuma" to us.
New Mexico can be very proud of its film promotion efforts. Since Gov. Bill Richardson revitalized the business with big incentives, communities throughout the state have prospered, while enjoying big stars in their midst.
But now Albuquerque has hit the big time with three A-List stars, and an A-List writer, director and producers here to film a high-tech comic book movie completely in Albuquerque.
The big attraction is the mammoth new Albuquerque Studios at Mesa del Sol, with eight sound stages, four of which are 24,000 square feet. The movie's technology is so cutting edge that it will completely take up two of the big sound stages, while other films use the remaining ones.
This is all to the good for Albuquerque's new studio, which some had predicted would fail because the noise from Albuquerque's nearby Sunport would scare away directors. We've heard no mention of that problem thus far.
As disclosed earlier, Arizona's film promotion effort has switched into high gear after losing a movie with a story set in its state. Evidently "3:10 to Yuma" was scheduled to be shot in Arizona until the producers heard about New Mexico's incentives. So the Arizona Legislature got busy and passed some incentives of its own.
The trick about incentives is making them work for both sides. Arizona lawmakers thought ours were a little generous, so they took a somewhat different approach. Both states are now busy with film production. Arizona claims New Mexico currently is its biggest competitor and says that New Mexico is winning.
Other states are in the game too, but one reason New Mexico and Arizona appear destined to continue their growth in film projects is the apparent revival of Westerns. Once hailed as the nation's great, truly indigenous art form, Westerns began to slip in the late 1970s as directors and studios switched their affections to action-adventures and science fiction.
But today, Westerns are back in town. Last year's Brokeback Mountain signaled a return to big budget oaters with a need for a lot of New Mexico and Arizona scenery. But don't expect them to follow the old singing cowboy who loves his horse more than his girl. Those tired themes helped put Westerns in the closet for a while.
Expect more modern themes. The Western still is the story of America, and since America is changing, so will Westerns. We'll likely be seeing, for instance, Westerns addressing the death throes of the Old West and its moral certainties.
But Westerns will still have cowboys and beautiful scenery. For one thing, the rest of the world is still enthralled with the American West and doesn't want to see it go away. Foreigners still want to go to Western movies and still want to travel to the American West.
So get ready to see some A-List stars, who never have put on a pair of boots in their lives, suddenly going to riding school. We may even see some revivals of New Mexico outlaw, Billy the Kid.
The true story of his life has never been put on film and it's as good a story as has ever been told, complete with good guys, bad guys, tormented youth, murder, revenge and tragic death.
So be prepared to see more movie stars around town, no matter where you live in New Mexico.

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