SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State film industry officials are steaming after two television ads shot recently for the New Mexico departments of tourism and transportation were produced by California-based directors.
Jon Hendry, the business agent for a local film workers union, said that New Mexico has a talent pool deep enough to make TV ads for state agencies using only New Mexico workers.
The latest ad in question is an anti-drunken driving spot shot last weekend in Albuquerque for the Department of Transportation. The DOT's Traffic Safety Bureau director, Michael Sandoval, said about 85 percent of the roughly 30-person crew involved in filming the ad, including all the actors, are from New Mexico.
But he added that the producer and director were brought in from California by the Albuquerque-based advertising firm hired by DOT several years ago, according to The Albuquerque Journal (
That decision was made due to the production team's special effects expertise, showcased in movies such as "Terminator Salvation," he said.
"We always try to do New Mexico first," Sandoval said. "But there's just not someone like that in New Mexico that can pull that off."
Hendry said that sent the wrong message to local film industry workers.
"There's no reason to bring in the production from out of state," said Hendry. "That's like bringing in green chile from Texas."
He noted the box office success of the movie "The Avengers," much of which was shot in the state, and said bringing in out-of-state producers sends a sour message to New Mexico students interested in pursuing film careers in their home state.
A spokesman for Martinez said in-state talent is used as much as possible in productions shot for state agencies.
"The state encourages the companies that win competitive advertising (contracts) to hire as many New Mexicans as they can possibly hire for every role in the production of their advertisements, as they carry out their mandate to produce and create highly effective advertisements," spokesman Scott Darnell said Tuesday.
The anti-DWI ad has a budget of about $100,000 and is one of four spots being produced for the agency for its annual "100 Days and Nights of Summer" campaign. It is expected to begin airing in mid-July.
The first ad for this year's campaign was produced by an entirely New Mexican crew, Sandoval said.
Earlier this year, in-state film production companies expressed similar displeasure after a Texas-based firm hired by the Department of Tourism to head its $2 million advertising campaign selected a California-based company to produce a TV ad.
That ad was shot in a variety of locations around the state over four days.
While New Mexico's film industry might have lacked technical expertise 10 years ago, Hendry said that is no longer the case as more productions use the state as their base.
"We're a production center," said Hendry, who works for the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480. "We don't take a back seat to anybody."
New Mexico contractors receive a 5 percent bidding advantage for state contracts under a law backed by Martinez, but advertising firms that do work for state agencies do not typically have to go through the formal contract process to produce TV ads.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.