New Mexico film director says industry thriving; want to lure more game and app developers

The film industry is thriving in New Mexico, and the state hopes to expand the momentum by luring gaming and app developers, the director of the state film office said Wednesday.

Nick Maniatis told the Legislature's Economic and Rural Development Committee that he is trying to set up a private fund that would help create an attractive environment for the other booming media industries, which are eligible for the same rebate incentives as television shows and movies.

The state's film industry slumped after Republican Gov. Susana Martinez took office in 2011 and tried to cut the program that provides 25 percent rebates for most direct in-state expenditures for productions filmed here. But the state is now seeing a steady uptick, Maniatis said.

He said that since the state passed its so-called "Breaking Bad" bill last year to increase the rebates for television shows to 30 percent, the number of series being filmed in New Mexico has grown from two to five. Two more potential shows are on the horizon.

The state has also been attracting a steady stream of films.

Asked about the future potential for the movie industry, Maniatis said, "The sky's the limit."

The rest of the state's economic news is not as rosy. Despite an oil boom in southeastern New Mexico and growth along the Mexico border, the state continues to lose jobs.

Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said private-sector businesses are actually growing at a rate of about 2 percent, but the loss of federal jobs keeps New Mexico near the bottom of national lists that tally job growth.

Key goals, he said, are diversifying the state's economy and getting better at helping to transfer innovations from Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories into new businesses in the state.

"Let me be clear," he said. "We've got a long way to go. The road to recovery is not going to be a short one."

Barela also told the Economic and Rural Development Committee the state continues to aggressively pursue a $5 billion Tesla Motors Inc. battery plant.

He says those efforts are being kept quiet at Tesla's request, but he assured the committee that "we are still very much in the game."


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