The ink wasn’t dry before the cameras started rolling.
On Monday June, 17, Albuquerque city councilors voted unanimously to approve a 10-year joint venture between NBCUniversal and an Albuquerque realtor to redevelop an empty warehouse into a film studio with two soundstages.
Already, work is being done on the free-span property at 1601 Commercial Avenue where the NBCUniversal studio is based. Filming started Monday, June 17, on Briarpatch, a crime anthology starring Rosario Dawson for USA Network. The pilot was filmed in Albuquerque in 2018.
They are the second major production company to choose Albuquerque as a studio location causing career prospects to possibly be opening up for film students at the University of New Mexico.
The chair of the Department of Cinematic Arts, James Stone, said that he sees Albuquerque becoming one of the “hotspots” for the film and television industry in the United States.
Originally from Norwich, England, Stone has lived in New Mexico for over twenty years and is both an associate professor and alumnus of the University. Recent developments have made him optimistic about the rise of the local film industry.
“There's absolutely no reason to leave because you have so much opportunity,” he said in regards to the arrival of NBCUniversal, which followed on the heels of the recent purchase of Albuquerque Studios by Netflix. He said they will positively affect current and future students in the film program.
In addition to promising over 300 jobs in Albuquerque and $55,000 annual funding for training, NBCUniversal agreed to sponsor a director-shadowing program. The program was described by the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s Alicia Keyes as paying one or two students a stipend to work on NBC programs.
Currently, Central New Mexico Community College is cited as a partner, but Keyes, a previous employee of the city’s film office, said other film programs will have access to the funding. Keyes said the opportunity for one or two students to work on productions is exciting.
“To be able to shadow a director and get paid for it — that’s incredible, and that doesn’t happen,” Keyes said at the press conference announcing the partnership in June.
Stone is confident that this is something UNM students will be able to apply for in the future. He also said the department is working on building a relationship with Netflix in the hopes of creating similar opportunities for students.
Over the next decade, NBCUniversal plans $500 million in direct production spending and confirmed a $500,000 marketing deal to promote both the city and the state.
In October of last year, Netflix signed a deal with the City of Albuquerque to create 1,000 jobs and spend $1 billion dollars over 10 years.
Stone said accessing hands-on experience is very important for those planning to go into the industry, and that NBCUniversal's arrival is going to open a lot of doors in Albuquerque.
“It seems like there's a whole group of entities that are coming together and, you know, there's a snowball effect,” he said.
Danielle Prokop contributed to the reporting of this story.
Emille Domschot is a freelance photographer for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @erdomschot.