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For Third Straight Year, Albuquerque is Best Place to Live and Work for Film Industry

Pandemic response, tax incentives and recent productions cited as winning assets in MovieMaker magazine rankings

Jan. 26, 2021

Albuquerque has made MovieMaker history. The leading industry magazine announced today it has chosen Albuquerque—for the third year in a row—as the No. 1 Best Place to Live and Work as a MovieMaker in the Big Cities category. The only other city to have earned the prestigious spot for three consecutive years since the magazine began the list in 2001 was New York, from 2005 to 2007. Albuquerque’s No. 1 ranking puts it at the top of a list that includes Austin, Atlanta, and Chicago.

“It’s no secret Albuquerque has assets that make us a leading film hub—from well-trained professional crews to key industry partnerships like Netflix and NBCUniversal. Earning this ranking for a third year in a row shows that our city has worked hard to remain competitive, attractive, and resilient during an incredibly challenging year,” said Mayor Tim Keller.

MovieMaker determined the winners using surveys, research on tax incentives and recent productions, and personal visits to most of the locations on the list, as well as the best available information on how cities are coping with the pandemic.

"This was obviously a very different year for our annual list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker — it’s a time of incredible upheaval, but also opportunity. Many in the film and TV industry are looking to change their way of life, and many cities and towns across the country are welcoming these storytellers with open arms,” said MovieMaker editor-in-chief Tim Molloy.  

Despite challenges presented by COVID, interest and activity in Albuquerque remained strong: Netflix Studios announced plans to expand its already substantial footprint in Albuquerque; NBCUniversal opened a TV and film studio location downtown; and multiple production-related companies with headquarters in larger cities made strategic decisions to set up shop in Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Film Office also launched a new digital permitting process in May to support a continued increase in permits and filming in the metro area.

“The recognition the city is receiving from the industry is a testament to the incredible talent, variety of assets, and unique locations that Albuquerque has to offer,” said Karen Criswell, Albuquerque Film Office liaison. “Albuquerque is a winning alternative to the coasts.”

“Our Economic Development Department, in partnership with other organizations, worked harder than ever in 2020 to ensure Albuquerque’s momentum in key industries like film did not wane. We are honored to see the city rewarded in this way and are looking forward in 2021 to working with all the creative productions that continuously create good-paying jobs, support local businesses, and entice new companies to relocate to Albuquerque,” said Economic Development director Synthia Jaramillo.

Albuquerque also received top billing from MovieMaker in 2010. The Duke City has placed first on the list four times, tying with Austin and bested only by New York City, which appeared five times until the magazine removed it and L.A. permanently from contention in 2020.

MovieMaker also ranked Santa Fe this year as No. 2 in its Small Cities and Towns category, supporting a regional commitment to the state’s booming industry.