Film and Motion Picture Industry Favorability is 70% Among New Mexico Residents

By The Garrity Group


This episode of the #GPS2020 Podcast features the Film and Motion Picture Industry and an interview with Amber Dodson, who is the director of the New Mexico Film Office. We ask her to discuss the industry, which has a strong 70% favorability among New Mexico residents.

The film industry ties for 3rd most favorable among 17 industries included in the 2020 Garrity Perception Survey

Albuquerque, NM. – New Mexico residents have a very favorable opinion of the Film and Motion Picture Industry according to the 2020 Garrity Perception Survey (GPS). Among the 17 industries surveyed, the film and motion picture industry is the third most favorable in the state, tied with New Mexico community colleges. The scientific survey among New Mexico residents was conducted in late January 2020.

The Film and Motion Picture Industry ties with Community Colleges as the third most favorable industry in New Mexico. Small Business (79%) and the Farm & Ranch Industry (77%) are the most favorable industries. The National Laboratories and Local Banks (both 67%) follow the Film Industry as the next most favorable industries.

Breaking Bad, No Country for Old Men and The Avengers are all productions that feature New Mexico in their credits and is one reason why the industry has such a favorable opinion among New Mexicans,” said Tom Garrity; President and CEO of The Garrity Group Public Relations. “According to the industry has generated in excess of $1.4 billion into the New Mexico economy since 2015. In addition to economic impact, it provides a sense of pride when we see the state’s unique landscape featured on the big screen.”

“It is not a mythical industry that happens somewhere else, it actually happens here on our streets, in our homes and employing our own local businesses in our state,” says Amber Dodson, Director of the New Mexico Film Office. “We are film friendly; this is an asset we have here when productions come to shoot here they are talking to, in general, to residents and business owners who have worked with the film industry and they think it is good for the economy, and it is. So many jobs are produced by the industry. Take for example, a feature film filmed here last year, Netflix’s Army of the Dead. They did most of the photography and production in Albuquerque and employed 501 New Mexico crew members, these are high paying jobs, lifelong careers as well as 2,000 background actors. This is a film friendly state because so many residents are employed or benefit from it.”

Residents who are likely to have a favorable impression of the film and motion picture industry include people who have been residents of the state for less than eight years, a college graduate and over the age of 65 years.

Geographically, residents living in North Central New Mexico have the highest favorability of the film industry than those living in other parts of the state. New Mexicans living in Albuquerque and the northwest parts of the state are also very favorable of the industry.

Full Transcript

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:00:10] This is the first time the film and motion picture industry has been featured in the annual Garrity Perception Survey, 70 percent of New Mexico residents have a favorable opinion of the film and motion picture industry. It’s my pleasure to welcome the director of the New Mexico Film Office, Amber Dodson. Director Dodson, welcome and thank you so much for taking some time today to talk about the film, A Motion Picture Industry.

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:00:33] Thank you for having me so much and happy to be here and happy to spend a lot of good news today.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:00:41] Outstanding. Well, you know, with a combined 20 years of professional experience in the entertainment media and tech industries, you clearly have a lot of background. And you’re no stranger to New Mexico’s film and motion picture industry. Can you provide a little bit of additional background for our viewers?

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:01:00] Sure, yeah. In a nutshell. Ever since I fell in love with the power of film, the power of storytelling in a visual media like film and TV back in preschool, I’ve always been in this world in one way or another. So I started out working at Dish Network in Colorado and I started out in marketing and advertising and video and TV production, doing a lot of basically commercial production and learning the art, you know, not the most exciting subject matter, but definitely learning the art of how to produce and what it takes to do a show or make a promo piece after that. And after getting bored with that subject matter, I went out on my own and did some commercial production. And then I decided that’s not enough either. I want to do movies and TV shows and documentaries. So I move to the Los Angeles market and, you know, started out as a low. I begged, begged for a job as a Hollywood producers assistant. As a matter of fact, those jobs are really hard to come by. You know, people with college degrees like myself and advanced degrees. You start out as an assistant. That’s how you learn how Hollywood works. So you pay your dues and they’re they’re not easy to pay. And worked my way up and learned, you know, various aspects of the business, everything from development and fundraising to physical production and even a bit about distribution and marketing. And after that, I decided to start a family and wanted to get out of that production. Day to day lifestyle, which is a thrill, but it doesn’t suit everyone at all times in their lives. For some, it does. For me, it didn’t. So I ventured out into tech startups and I worked for a tech startup called Synchronize that was actually brilliant. It’s still in existence and it’s used at just about every studio still today. It’s a brilliant, cloud based application for film and TV productions to basically work more efficiently and streamline workflow and stay on the same virtual page. Something that Hollywood had never really had before. So I sold that and helped grow that startup. And it’s, as I mentioned, still an incredible product. And it was actually acquired by entertainment partners. So that was a really fun right. And then here in New Mexico, most recently, I was head of the Albuquerque Film Office. That was my first foray into government. I thoroughly was a steep learning curve. I’d always been in the private sector, but I really enjoy being a public servant. And, you know, the goal of providing and supporting and facilitating a thriving economy really lights my fire as opposed to maybe just making money for a studio. So I really enjoy that aspect of this job and bringing in my expertize from the private sector and production and Hollywood because it is such a different world. I feel like I’ve now landed in just kind of like a dream job. I really it’s been a wild three months with Kofod 19, but I am thoroughly enjoying the challenges and the purpose that I serve in this in this job. So let’s hope that’s quick. Sorry if that was too long.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:04:31] No, that’s good. I didn’t know a lot about I say congratulations to you for being able to successfully bridge that private sector, the public sector chasm, because it is a chasm. It’s just it’s it’s a different thought process. Not good or bad. It’s just very different. And so congratulations to you.

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:04:50] Thank you. Still learning. Still learning.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:04:52] Some people who might not be that familiar with the state, who might be brand new, might not really know that much about the film industry in New Mexico. Could you share a little bit of your perspective on Mexico’s history and film and motion picture and how it’s grown in the state?

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:05:10] Yeah, absolutely. I think this needs to be a story that we tell far and wide. The history of film and TV in New Mexico goes back incredibly long, long, long, long ago. Eighteen ninety eight, I think was the first alleged documentary film ever shot, and that was shot here in New Mexico. Ever since then, we’ve had quite a storied history and quite prestigious history of, you know, something allegedly the best TV show ever made by some critics. Breaking Bad was made here a week prior to that. You know, shows like The Avengers was made here. Most of that movie was made here. And most people do not know that. You know, the Coen various Coen brothers movies, all kinds of series, The Night Shift and better call Saul. And it’s you can look back and actually have a filmography on our New Mexico film office web website that I would encourage anyone to check out. Even people who have lived here for decades had no idea this many projects were actually made here. And that’s really a testament to one. New Mexico is a creative place. Our creative economy is thriving. It’s always been a big part of our identity and our livelihoods. And film and TV is part of that and has been for a long, long, long time. Also, the fact that the film and TV industry has been here so long and it’s not just sustained but is growing is a true testament to our true base. The people who live and work here, our New Mexican professionals in this industry who are consummate experts in what they do in phone calls with the Los Angeles production executives, studios and production companies, I hear time and time again our base is Barnham outstanding world class. These are the words that describe our for crew base. And of course, with Governor Lujan Grisham and her being a total champion and advocate of the film industry, that incentive is just the perfect keystone to all of this coming together. So I think now more than ever, the film and TV industry here is just poised for the most bright future.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:07:30] Well, indeed, I did know that it has been in existence for quite that long, and especially starting with the documentary being a former news person. I always like to make sure that, you know, there is some representation of your peers with documentaries. That was the first go. So I think that’s great.

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:07:48] I know what a documentary fan as well. I’m really proud of that fact. I tout it whenever I can.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:07:54] It’s awesome. So, you know, this is the first year that the film, a motion picture industry has been included in the Garity Perception Survey. It shows very well 70 percent approval rating. It’s tied for third as far as the most favorable in the state. Why do you think it’s one of the most favorable industries in New Mexico?

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:08:14] That’s such a good question. And we are so happy to be part of the Garity survey. By the way. So thank you. I think, you know, when I started working in Albuquerque, the film office, a lot of a lot of the job there is interfacing with the community, whether it’s you know, there’s someone who knocked on my door. They want to use my house as a location. Is this production legitimate, too? You know, there’s a truck parked and it’s it should be parked there. It’s blocking my driveway. And so we worked with the productions to make sure everything is the wheels are greased between the community and the production. So in working like first hand with art, with Albuquerque, the community, it’s a film friendly place. And why I think part of it is because film and TV is not is not novel to our to our residents. It’s something that, again, we’ve we’ve had in our neighborhoods and on our streets. We’ve seen productions daily when things are really bumping. It’s not this weird, you know, mythical industry that happens somewhere else. It actually happens here on our own streets and in our own homes and employing our own local businesses. So I think we’re film friendly. That takes a long time for a community, I think, to warm up to the industry. So that’s just another asset we have here. When when you win productions come to shoot here, they’re talking to in general, you know, residents and business owners who have worked with the film industry and they think it’s very good for the economy. Obviously, it is also a film friendly place because so many jobs are produced by the film and TV production industry. When a production gets greenlit, let’s just take, for example, a feature film last year, Netflix’s Army of the Dead. They did most of their photography and production in Albuquerque overnight. That employed five hundred and one New Mexico crew members. That’s just 500 people. These are high paying jobs. You know, these are these are not just jobs. They actually turn into long, long careers, lifelong careers. And that doesn’t include background actors. I think they talked to thousand background actors and principals and stunts. And so I think I think this is a film friendly state and place because so many businesses in and residents actually are employed or benefit from it. It’s a clean industry. It’s something that it’s a growing, thriving industry. It’s blowing up now more than ever. And New Mexico has everything it takes to really be a premier hub. I think that that is becoming more well known, just common, more commonplace. And I think the more stories we get out there about and we hear these all the time and we start right, we’re going to strive to get more of these out into the press as well. But for example, there’s someone owns a salon, is sick of being a salon owner, happens to get a job, you know, in film and TV and finds out that’s his or her passion. Never looked back. You know, and this one’s a union member and has pension and benefits and and you’re in this industry that’s really thrilling and attracts really hardworking, passionate people. So I think it’s all of those things combined makes us a really film friendly state.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:11:47] Well, I also think that it provides a real sense of pride here, because I know whenever I go back in the PRE-COVID days, you know, whenever I go to conferences or meetings out-of-state, I yeah, you mentioned Albuquerque and everybody is talking about Breaking Bad. And, you know, we you know, some people might not like the subject matter, but I think everybody can agree. I like both. By the way, I think we all can agree that the scenery is just simply spectacular. They provide a lens on New Mexico, all the different motion pictures that a lot of us just haven’t really seen before where I’ve seen it, but not necessarily through their eyes. So I think that it’s it’s a great ombudsman for the state. No doubt.

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:12:26] Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. When I was in Europe last year and whenever I mentioned Albuquerque as well, everyone just said, oh, Breaking Bad. That’s the best show. It looks so beautiful in New Mexico. Wow. Well, we we want to come and do the Breaking Bad tour. They really just want to come down to Mexico to see those amazing locations and landscapes. So I agree. That’s a great point. It is a huge source of pride.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:12:53] And so, you know, in this you know, we’re in this covered area. You’re on the job for several months. You’re already very experienced going into the into this opportunity. What does the film and motion picture look like in a postcode environment?

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:13:08] That’s a great question. The past three months, I think everyone in this industry, we’ve all been. Thinking, reinventing and trying to grasp what this will really look alike. We’ve all been also poring over all of the guidelines and protocols that every country in state and city are really seeing as we go on to kind of see what this will look like. But ultimately, we now have a pretty clear picture, just a functionally what it will look like with a white paper that came out and also a DGA SAG I, Occy Teamsters joint report on safety guidelines that came out a couple of weeks ago. It really provides like a pet. It’s called the Safe Way Forward. It provides us a pathway and some guidelines as to how do we move forward. In a post over the current Koven and post covered worlds onset offset in the production office, scouting and audition’s, it goes through department by department and provides, you know, this framework and these guidelines so that so this industry continued can continue to thrive and not not and essentially keep people safe. Health safety is the priority of these guidelines and of course, of our state and in our film industry here locally, we where we want the health safety of every person to drive all decisions when on film and TV production. That’s really our main goal and the governor’s goal. So functionally, we’re getting there. We’ve got these guidelines from the guilds and unions. There’s the official next iteration of those is forthcoming. So that will really be the next milestone. And then at that point, we we as a New Mexico, we’ll be releasing some recommendations that basically complement those guidelines and provide some other resources and principles from which to draw. And then just in terms of the what the pipeline looks like and what you meant, how busy we’re going to be, that if that’s the other end of the question you’re asking is actually we’ve never looked better. If there’s a silver lining to Cauvin 19 in regard to our New Mexico film and TV industry, it’s certainly the fact that New Mexico looks more appealing now than it even did before. Why the proximity to Los Angeles is a huge factor right now. There’s a lot of productions that that were previously set for, you know, off the top of my head, Bogota, Colombia, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Europe. That and these production executives are really wanting to have their shows and their people closer to Los Angeles to mitigate risk. Also, with our governor doing such an incredible job with preventing crazy spread of the virus in New Mexico, you know, we are really we’re agreeing right now. That’s also really appealing to the film and TV production industry that, you know what, we’re not going to a hot spot. We’re not we’re not going to run into a huge disaster. And potentially we have to, you know, scale back or whatever. So all of these things making New Mexico even more appealing. Of course, you know, everyone knows our crew bases top notch and we have that incentive. That is, again, the keystone. So the phone has been ringing off the hook. We’re talking to a great. Tons and tons of productions. So I think when we open up, when it’s safe to fully open up, we will be busy for a long time to come. And of course, we have Netflix and NBC here, too, for the long haul.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:16:54] So those have got to be to your great feather’s to have, you know, as far as really bragging points for New Mexico, because what other states have those type of presence like that? I can’t think of any outside of California.

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:17:11] Yeah. Not many. Not many. Netflix is they’ve got you know, they’ve got more of an international presence. They have some production hubs in other places. But we are really unique to have two front running studios right here in Albuquerque and really to have them make that commitment, that long term commitment both for spend and for jobs. Thanks to everyone before me and my my amazing, brilliant boss, Secretary Alicia Keys, who were instrumental in bringing those flagships here, because without those, I guess it’s a calling card. And I think that really put us on the map.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:17:51] That’s wonderful.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:17:52] So, Director Dodson, what other insights about the film and motion picture industry would you like to provide as we wrap up our conversation today?

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:18:02] Well, I think, you know, in a in a covered world right now, with our economy, of course, hurting in every unjust industry hurting right now, film and TV, let’s you know, I think the governor’s incredibly savvy to to really advocate for it and champion it, because film and TV is an industry that can actually bounce back and rebound almost immediately. Once again, it’s safe to do so. Not many other industries can rebound so expeditiously, efficiently and bring in so much outside money overnight. And so I think it’s really even if you’re not directly involved in if or onset in a film and TV production, the ripple effect of this industry is is so wide it affects residents and businesses statewide that spend when it when production is here in town. You know, it’s not just the crew member getting wages or even, say, an outside actor coming to L.A. getting wages and flying out. That person is actually also, you know, Patra going to salons and retail shops and museums and spending money in our local economy. And crews are huge casts and crews are huge and they’re here for a long time. So I’m just here to say it’s it’s an industry that will help us recover from this time. And we’re definitely on the trajectory of growth and prosperity. And I would encourage anyone who’s interested in working in this industry. Absolutely. Go for it. Do not move to L.A. unless you really want to stay right here. We actually need you. We want to keep growing our crew base and keep growing these businesses that support this essential economy to Mexico.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:19:56] So if somebody wants to learn more, I wear what website do they visit? How do they reach out to get more information about the film, a motion picture industry in New Mexico?

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:20:06] Sure. So, you know, our Web site actually does have a good amount of information that’s really helpful, just general overarching information. Where can I get training in various film and TV trades? Where are where we there’s 22 schools statewide, just, you know, post-secondary that this teach in some capacity film and TV animation, visual effects, post-production. That’s pretty amazing. That’s also very unique to Mexico. So our site provides information on resources, education opportunities. When we’re open for production again, you’ll see more postings about auditions or, you know, job postings. But also, I would highly encourage people who are interested in working on set to to look at our local union or our crew below the line. Union is I Ötzi. It’s an acronym I a t. S e local for eighty, and they have their own Web site. And that’s a great, great wealth of information too. About what are the crafts. I Ötzi local for 80, represents ninety nine different crafts. There’s a huge range of different jobs. So that’s another thing that so many skills out there are transferable to this industry and that is a great place to go. If if something tickles your fancy and you’re thinking, you know what, I do know carpentry and I’d really like to work in film and TV, you can actually call I it’s I Öcsi local free and they will provide information you could possibly get on the overflow list, which is essentially a list of people who are trying to acquire ours on a production in order and other things in order to get into the union. It’s not impossible. It’s absolutely doable. It’s doable every day. So that’s a great resource. Talk to them here. They’re here, you know, in New Mexico and get on that list and keep honing your skills. And in any kind of film and TV events, you know, relationships are always critical to if you know, someone working in film and TV, ask them what it’s like. Ask them, you know, can I be a production assistant? Because that’s a nonunion job. Anyone with the right skills and work ethic and enough hustle can can get a job as a P.A. and don’t don’t not take it seriously. Take a that’s that’s my other advice for the industry is no matter what job you get, take it seriously and and execute with pride and hard work and you’ll go far.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:22:46] I always try and get my brother, who’s in the film the motion picture industry, to move from Southern California to come to New Mexico. He’s been here a couple of times for some shoots and has just always loved it each time. So I will make sure I send him the link for this interview.

Amber Dodson, NM Film Office [00:23:01] Absolutely. Absolutely.

Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group [00:23:04] Director Dodson, thank you so much. Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office. Thank you so much for joining us today for all of the links that we’ve talked about today. They will be in the show notes and on our blog. And how do you get there? Well, if you’re not there already. It’s at Garrity Port. Com Just click on Garrity Perceptions Survey. Thank you for watching.

Published July 9, 2020

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