Film office: Industry pumps record $288M into New Mexico economy

Nick Maniatis, director of New Mexico film office, via linkedin.com

The film industry pumped a record $288 million into New Mexico’s economy in fiscal year 2015, according to the New Mexico Film Office.

In a Friday news release, Gov. Susana Martinez credited the state’s incentive program for film and television productions for the steep increase in revenue over fiscal year 2014, when the film business brought $82.8 million to the state. “As we work to build an economy that’s as diverse as the place we call home, we’re continuing to see our strong incentive program help the film industry contribute to these efforts,” Martinez said.

Nick Maniatis, director of the film office, said in a phone interview Friday that the data are based on an analysis by the office of a year’s worth of expenses that qualified under the state’s incentive program for the television and movie industry. Productions receive rebates on qualified expenses of filming in New Mexico, such as crew salaries, car rentals, hotel rooms, and equipment and location rentals.

The analysis did not include actor salaries.

“We’re really happy with the numbers and are going to try to keep the momentum going,” Maniatis said. “This is the best year we’ve had since the incentive program went in the books.”

The data show the movie industry generated 280,000 “worker days” in the fiscal year 2015, and the state hosted 25 major productions.

Among the films shot in New Mexico in 2015 were Independence Day: Resurgence, The Magnificent Seven and The Ridiculous Six. Several television productions, including Manhattan, Better Call Saul and Longmire also anchor in the state.

Maniatis said the film office expects to announce more productions by the end of the year.

The incentive program, signed into law in 2003 by former Gov. Gary Johnson and expanded by former Gov. Bill Richardson, gives tax rebates of up to 30 percent for qualifying productions and allows up to $50 million in rebate expenditures each year.

Critics of the incentive program argue that the payoff isn’t worth the investment. In past years, various studies — some commissioned by the state of New Mexico and others conducted by outside entities — have reported that the film business generates anywhere from an additional 14.5 cents to $1.50 for every dollar invested in the program.

A recent analysis conducted by a Canadian accounting firm on behalf of the film office found that the industry brought between 2,500 and 4,000 full-time jobs to the state from 2010 to 2014. It also said the film business generated nearly $514 million for the state economy during that period, peaking at $118.7 million in 2011. Spending in New Mexico by the film and television industry fell to $82.8 million in 2014.

Many states have approved production incentive programs in the past decade or so. But several, including Michigan, have since dropped them because they were not paying off or state governments wanted to redirect money to more pressing needs. Other states, including Louisiana, have scaled back the scope of such incentives.

California, angling to keep some of its homegrown business, recently increased its financial incentives.

Earlier this month, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales said he wants to open a film office to attract more productions to the city.

Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or rnott@sfnewmexican.com.

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(4) comments

Sean Cardinalli

This is smoke screening in its (pun intended) clearest form. After hobbling the industry by rolling back its gains under Richardson, then slowwwly tweaking that rollback, Martinez has the gall to take credit for the "upturn"? There'd have been no stall-out in the first place had Martinez not played politics and nearly killed the once-thriving industry of the early 2000s in the first place! Hell, she supported potash tax rebates over film rebates simply because she's a Republican and her predecessor was a Democrat! Don't believe the hype by letting Tejana take the credit. The last few years, she and her lackeys have been "spinning" the hell outta this story when she should've left well enough alone in the first place. This state is poor enough and her rank partisanship did nothing to help when she first entered office.

Henry Joseph

I do remember the Governor being vehemently against the film industry. Recall comments how the industry was a tax break and would cost the state lots of moolah. Then few state legislators spoke with her and spelled it out…the hotel industry benefits, the restaurant industry benefits…you name it. She grudgingly did an about face. So…what I do not understand is how in the world this unrepentant hypocrisy can shamelessly stands relative to the facts? Is there more than one person or two people who actually recall the facts and not the made up, make believe stories?

Diane Denish

Thanks to Governor Bill Richardson and our administration for making the film industry in New Mexico a top priority early in our tenure. He laid the groundwork for this success and should be given credit for it's vigorous growth and the job creation associated with it. Martinez and McCleskey campaigned vigorously against it in 2010 and created an unneccessary downturn in production and growth - but thanks to the industry strength we had built, the people who work in the business , and strong Democratic legislative support, the industry survived their nasty politics. Credit where credit is due -- thank you Governor Richardson!

Sean Cardinalli

Thank you, Diane! i voted for you, dang it! See my rant above and be well.

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