June 21, 2019 – Last week, NBCUniversal announced plans to expand its film and TV production with a multimillion-dollar project in downtown Albuquerque. The state is investing up to $7.7 million along with $3 million from Albuquerque in Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funding to convert a present warehouse into a state-of-the-art studio. In return for these investments and additional tax incentives, NBCUniversal has committed to $500 million dollars of spending over the next decade, more than 300 full-time jobs at good wages, and $55,000 per year into training programs.
While the Albuquerque City Council voted unanimously to approve the city’s share of the funding, not everyone is on board with the investment, including the Rio Grande Foundation, a tax watchdog group. Gene Grant and the Line opinion panelists weigh in on whether they think it’s a good economic deal for New Mexico.
Janice Arnold-Jones, former NM state representative
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group PR
Giovanna Rossi, Collective Action Strategies, “The Well Woman Show” (KUNM)
Harry Van Buren, UNM Anderson School of Management
New Mexico’s incentives for film and television were specifically structured to build local jobs. Productions get tax rebates for using and training local crew members. Other states allow productions to get tax credits or rebates on crew members they bring in from elsewhere. Central New Mexico Community College has been a primary source of training to fill that crew pipeline. In this episode, we speak with Jim “Grubb” Graebner, who runs the film technician training program at CNM, about how CNM is adapting and expanding its program to train more crew since Netflix has opened a production hub in Albuquerque and the state expanded its incentives. We also talk with Matthew McDuffie, professor of practice in screenwriting at the University of New Mexico. UNM recently renamed its Department of Film and Digital Arts to the Department of Cinematic Arts, which will focus on film production, gaming and animation, and criticism. UNM plans to offer classes in acting for the camera, directing, set design and construction, practical special effects and expanded coursework in screenwriting.
Guests: Jim “Grubb” Graebner, head, Film Technician Training Program, CNM
Matthew McDuffie, professor of practice, Film & Digital Arts, UNM