Offering everything from mountains and mesas to cityscapes and rural spaces, New Mexico has rapidly become a filmmaking hotspot. Though this impressive range of diverse locations is backdropping dramatic scenes at ever-increasing rates, it’s far from the only thing drawing in droves of production studios, TV series, and filmmakers.
After passing a new law that doubled the state’s cap on film incentives in 2019, the already-growing film and television industry in New Mexico experienced explosive growth.
“New Mexico is seeing a record number of productions from the film and television industry and all-time high spending, and it’s no accident,” said Governor Lujan Grisham in a recent press release.
In 2022 alone, 55 features and 54 television productions shot in New Mexico and that number is expected to increase in the coming years. Season 4 of the award-winning Netflix series Stranger Things brought in a modern audience, and Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho solidified New Mexico as the premier spot for shooting Westerns.
Las Cruces in particular has quickly become a front-runner for film productions due in part to its highly competitive incentives, made possible by the 2019 law. Keep reading to learn more about why filmmakers are choosing Las Cruces to save on their production budgets, streamline shooting schedules, and get the perfect shot.
Film Tax Incentives & Rebates in Las Cruces
When California-based film studio 828 Productions decided to relocate, the new opportunities sprouting up in Las Cruces made the choice a simple one.
“This is a town on the rise, with a wealth of opportunity just waiting to be tapped into,” said Todd Lundbohm, Founder and CEO.
While New Mexico’s film tax credits were already cutting-edge at 25-30%, the “rural uplift” incentive boosts savings for shooting outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe by an additional 5%. Now, 828 Productions is among the many studios and projects saving an additional 5% on their film spend in Las Cruces than those in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
From indie shorts to full-length features, productions are flocking to New Mexico to cut their budget without cutting corners. With a total of 35% in Refundable Film Production Tax Credits paid out in a cash rebate, Las Cruces stands out as the premier spot for filmmakers to take their projects to the next level.
Film Crew Advancement Program
Every film needs a skilled, reliable crew base to pull from. In New Mexico, that basic necessity becomes a budget-saving benefit.
The Film Crew Advancement Program, launched in 2004, offers a 50% reimbursement for wages to qualifying productions hiring local crew. This generous incentive stacks with the 30-35% incentive filmmakers can save shooting in Las Cruces, making the potential savings unparalleled.
With 300+ trained crew members living and working in Las Cruces, the hassle of filling out call sheets is a thing of the past. Post-launch, the FCAP is expanding the local film industry, encouraging more talented New Mexicans to join the creative field, and giving filmmakers even more options for their project.
State-Wide Film Liaison Network
As film and television productions continue to migrate to New Mexico, state-certified agencies like Film Las Cruces are rising to meet the current needs of filmmakers.
Full-service and highly trained film liaisons provide simplified permitting processes for film and television productions alike.
No need to miss out on any potential film rebates or tax credits due to bureaucratic language, either. Film Las Cruces film liaisons communicate directly with city and county agencies for the most up-to-date information on streamlining permitting processes for filmmakers and production studios.
Having launched the Film Friendly Business Program in partnership with the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce as well, Film Las Cruces is consistently pioneering new collaborations that cut costs (and time) for film budgets.
Participating businesses offer industry-specific deals, discounts, and specialized services for film and television productions in Las Cruces, from hotel rooms for your crew to last-minute scene lighting needs. Explore the range of businesses partnering with film productions in Las Cruces here — the experienced, the eclectic, and everything in between.
More Perks of Filming in Las Cruces
Though the coasts have dominated the film industry in decades past, rising costs of living have hindered enthusiasm for filming in New York City and Los Angeles. The latter city, for example, is experiencing a significant decline in feature film and commercial shooting according to a recent report.
Luckily, the cost of living in New Mexico is 8% below the national average. Beyond rebates, reimbursements, and film-specific deals from local businesses, New Mexico offers direct savings on the extraneous costs for productions just by being an affordable location in general.
Direct flights to LA and a year-long temperate climate are just a few of the perks that make the transition to filming in Las Cruces a seamless one. Some additional benefits to consider are:
- Award-winning film schools
- 3,000+ hotel rooms
- National parks and monuments
- Two military bases
- Borderland scenery and vistas
- Historical architecture
- Full array of restaurants, stores, and services
- Trained crew workforce
- 300+ days of sunshine
- International airport
Ready to get the shot without going over your production budget? Connect with an experienced industry professional at Film Las Cruces for direct guidance through location permits, finding your crew, and taking advantage of New Mexico’s competitive film incentives.