“The Night Shift” is canceled, CBS passed on “Mission Control,” it’s not looking good for “The Brave,” “Black Panther” was the 12th Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in a row to avoid the Land of Enchantment, and Jon Hendry is being sued for “sexually harassing a former union employee, touching her inappropriately and attempting to block her from finding other work in the industry after the union fired her.”
These are not great times for film and television production in New Mexico. But in the southern portion of the state, the 2018 Las Cruces International Film Festival is underway, and the City of the Crosses is moving forward with its longstanding desire to build a taxpayer-subsidized studio and enact its own “incentives” for the industry.
While the Albuquerque-Santa Fe metroplex has allowed itself to be snowed by Hollywood hype for a decade and a half, the Las Cruces area has lagged behind in the deeply misguided belief that subsidizing media conglomerates generates real, sustainable economic development. That’s changing, with the opening of “a new film studio for film production and workforce training.” The nonprofit Film Las Cruces — its board of directors is headed by State Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces), who evidently sees no conflict of interest in his status — got “a little bit of funding” from Doña Ana Community College to open the facility, housed at a vacant Coca-Cola bottling plant. But as Steinborn noted, plans are for “Las Cruces Studios” to be surpassed by something far greater, with the city sitting on $3.8 million in funding for a larger complex. (The Las Cruces Sun-News, exhibiting the triumph of hope over experience, is thrilled that the region will now “compete with Santa Fe and Albuquerque for TV and film production work.”)
Even worse, city councilors are considering “a plan that would … allocate $400,000 to create an incentive for productions to film in Las Cruces,” funded through the GRT and lodgers’ tax.
In 2015, Steinborn claimed that a studio would “get Las Cruces into the game.” True, no doubt, but in the game of handing out freebies to Tinseltown, taxpayers always lose.