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ABQ Film Office Finished 2020 with Impressive List of Wins Despite Shutdown

Year included successes in marketing, workforce training, industry recognition, business recruitment

Feb. 23, 2021

It would have been easy and perhaps expected for the City of Albuquerque Film Office (AFO) in 2020 to have been defined by the year’s pandemic-induced seven-month film industry shutdown. But like a twist in a Hollywood thriller, the year will instead be remembered as a surprise smash.

The AFO not only made significant internal technological enhancements, but it also worked to safely maintain external engagement, supporting the local industry and workforce, while stepping up national visibility. Among its many accomplishments, the AFO:

  • Supported film industry development, leading MovieMaker magazine to name Albuquerque the No.1 big city in which to live and work as a film maker in January 2020
  • Continued to attract production companies to Albuquerque, as seen by the opening of several regional offices of well-known entities such as Crafty Apes and Keslow Camera
  • Worked closely with partners to land the Netflix Studios footprint expansion
  • Worked closely with partners to see the 2020 opening of NBCUniversal’s TV and film studio downtown
  • Launched an interactive website that includes a photographic location database, and a local business resource directory, all reflective of the city’s VIP reputation in the film industry
  • Created a digital permitting process to support the continued increase in local permits and filming, and to enable productions to submit permits more efficiently
  • Produced a promotional video showcasing the city’s crew base, diversity of people and places, production studios, and other assets that make Albuquerque a film industry hub
  • Hosted an industry workshop for local above-the-line filmmakers, as well as online events for college and high school students interested in becoming production assistants
  • Sponsored film festivals, including the JCC Albuquerque Jewish Film Fest, Way Out West Fest, Ciné Magnifico Film Festival, and the Albuquerque Film & Music Experience (AFMX)
  • Hosted the first “Deadline Hot Spots” event, including a city tour for industry leaders from Los Angeles (before the shutdown)

“Our Film Office succeeded because it found innovative ways to evolve while adhering to smart public health protocols,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Despite the pandemic’s threat to our businesses, our economy, our workers, and our spirit, Albuquerque’s film industry is evidence that economic advancement and public health are not mutually exclusive.”

The AFO’s momentum continued into the start of the new year, as MovieMaker just last month ranked the city No. 1 for film makers yet again, partly due to some of the successes mentioned above. “Albuquerque is at the top of our list for the third consecutive year (2019-2021), and it just keeps getting better,” the magazine states.

“In entertainment, the show must go on regardless of what else is happening. You find a way. In Albuquerque last year, the film industry could easily have languished; instead, we continued to evolve beyond expectations,” said Karen Criswell, film liaison for the City’s Film Office. “As a result, we are well-positioned to work with the anticipated influx of productions in 2021.”

Due to strict compliance with COVID Safe Practices for Production, Criswell said, the industry is continuing a gradual increase in activity with “several significant projects underway.”