Film & Television

Film production in New Mexico began in the 19th century when Thomas Edison made a film about gold mining in the Ortiz Mountains, and the state continues to be a destination for filmmakers from every corner of the globe. The Film Office provides complete customer service ensuring an optimal film production and post-production experience. New Mexico has a refundable tax credit for film production, post-production, app, and videogame creation, as well as an additional 5% for direct production expenditures on a qualifying television series and payments to New Mexico resident crew members. Direct spending within the state by film companies averages $300 million annually. In addition, production companies can benefit from New Mexico’s Film Crew Advancement Program and Pre-employment Training Program which matches paid internships from in-state higher education institutions.

The state’s exceptional research and education facilities, and very competitive electric power and wage costs contribute to the growth and diversity of the industry here, which now includes DNA mapping software, health care information technology, flight simulation, gaming, and more. As more Americans turn to digital media for entertainment, the gaming industry is set to reach $83 billion in 2015. With its technical infrastructure and growing talent pool of game developers and programmers, New Mexico is poised to be a regional hub for game development.

Universities & Colleges

New Mexico is home to two universities that have been recognized for their respective digital media degree programs. Animation Career Review ranked New Mexico State University 49th of the top 100 U.S. schools for animation and game design. The Princeton Review recently ranked the top 10 schools for undergraduate and graduate game design; the University of New Mexico is pegged at 9th.

The University of New Mexico (UNM) College of Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Film & Digital Media (IFDM) Program is designed to offer students an IFDM degree that can be customized to meet a variety of interests and needs, including computer-based applications like simulations or animation, production level courses, or business applications that emphasize the legal, marketing, and accounting aspects of the digital film industry.

The School of Engineering's Advanced Graphics Lab (AGL) at UNM is the principal research center for computer graphics, computational image processing, computer vision, visualization, user-interaction, and related fields in digital media. Researchers in the AGL have been awarded more than $1.6 million in sponsored research for projects relating to these fields.

Research projects at the AGL include:

  • Compressed sensing, an emerging field within the applied mathematics community that shows how to accurately reconstruct a signal from a small set of linear measurements
  • Computational photography, a growing field within computer graphics that develops new photographic techniques by combining digital imaging, novel optics, and innovative processing algorithms
  • Novel algorithms for visualization in digital domes and multi-surface environments, utilizing digital fulldomes for the visualization of complex data sets

In addition to its extensive research, AGL offers a curriculum of courses for undergraduate and graduate students interested in studying computer graphics, visualization, computer vision, and game development. Several games developed as part of this teaching program have been released to the public through venues such as XBOX Live. Games produced by the lab and offered through XBOX include Marauder Madness!, Toybox Racing, and Magnetic Defender.

The ARTS Lab (Arts, Research, Technology and Science Laboratory) at UNM is driven by transdisciplinary research, between the humanties and sciences, relating to new trends and opportunities in media production, gaming, computer graphics, and interactive applications. The research is then applied to areas including: film, telehealth, national security, game technology, new media, and more in order to stimulate growth and innovation in existing and emerging markets. UNM collaboration partners include: AGL, the Department of Computer Science, the Center for Advanced Research Computing, the College of Fine Arts’ Electronic Arts Program, the School of Architecture and Planning, and the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program (IFDM).

Examples of ARTS Lab projects:

  • Engineering simulations, such as projecting the movement of oil from oil spills and climate change modeling
  • Medical research, using digital media to visualize brain activity and other elements of the body
  • Gronk’s Brain Flame, a 14-minute computer animated piece describing the flashpoint in a creative thought

The ARTS Lab is a member of a consortium developing the hardware and software to make it possible to use full dome and other multi-projector installations as interactive, multisurface environments that help people visualize, simulate, or experientially comprehend a wide range of information, from educational and artistic material to evaluating scientific data and complex systems.

The Creative Media Institute (CMI) at New Mexico State University is a dynamic cross-disciplinary program that prepares students for 21st century digital filmmaking and animation and visual effects. The CMI includes an animation lab offering areas of concentration in classical animation, character animation, visual effects, 3D computer animation, science visualization, and interactive animation.

New Mexico Highlands University Media Arts & Technology program provides state-of-the-art Mac labs and a digital film and animation studio. Several degree programs are offered in media arts or a combination of media arts and computer science.

Central New Mexico College’s Film Technician Program offers two certificates: Film Crew Technician and Post Production Technician.

The Santa Fe University of Art & Design offers strong degree programs in Graphic Design & Digital Arts as well as a full-fledged Film School.

Santa Fe Community College has an established comprehensive film program offering associates degrees and certificates in film making and production.

The Santa Fe Higher Education Center, which is located near the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, offers a Bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Technology.

Emerging Media Research and Development

Sandia National Laboratories conducts many areas of research that are impacting emerging media industries. Sandia’s Computational Shock and Multi-Physics Department provides unique, state-of-the-art modeling and simulation capabilities using coupled multi-physics and multiple discretization technologies to simulate high strain rate and high energy density physics.

Other research areas impacting emerging media technologies include:

  • Meshing digital images
  • Seismic imaging to identify oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico beneath salt domes
  • Computational biology specific to bioinformatics, molecular biophysics, and systems biology
  • High resolution 3D simulations emphasizing fluid flow and chemical kinetics modeling
  • Automated molecular biology platforms for personalized genomic medicine

The Science and Technology Corporation (STC) at UNM is a nonprofit corporation formed and owned by UNM’s Board of Regents. The mission of STC is to support UNM and its partners as the source of innovation management and commercial development. In this capacity STC collaborates with researchers at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. These collaborations have yielded many innovative approaches for evolving health care IT systems for commercialization, including:

  • Dynamic software for patient treatment and monitoring, and clinic management
  • Sleep laboratory database solutions
  • Personal medical record management
  • Wikilips (
  • Audio recording applet for interpreter training

Film Studios

There are four full-service film studios in New Mexico:

Albuquerque Studios has 9 stages ranging from 18,000 to 48,000 square feet, as well as a 3,000 square foot Cycloramic Green Screen stage.

Production support includes:

  • Lighting and grip
  • Camera rentals
  • Sound and video services
  • Heavy equipment rentals
  • Storage space
  • Expendables store
  • Set construction
  • Power
  • HVAC
  • Security
  • Stage managers
  • Medical
  • Catering
  • Wireless Internet service
  • Telephones
  • Truck and trailer hookups with power, phone and data anywhere on the lot
  • Truck rental

Studio Concierge Services provides local knowledge, lowest rates possible, and reliable services, all of which are offered at no cost to the production. Albuquerque Studios also offers 100,000 square feet of production office and support space adjacent to stages, including wardrooms and dimmer rooms.

 I-25 Studios has six sound stages, including a stage with 145’ green screen wall. Other amenities include:

  • 20,000 square feet of production and executive office space
  • Two mills
  • SFX shop
  • Paint shop
  • Wardrobe/fitting
  • 200,000 square feet of storage and Gold Rooms
  • Acres of parking
  • Two base camps
  • Camera department
  • Digital lab
  • Cafeteria with catering

I-25 Studios is conveniently located, only 15 minutes from the airport and less than an hour to the Plaza in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Studios has two 19,275 square foot stages, 24,000 square feet of production offices, a 17,000 square foot warehouse, 4,600 square foot mill, and a 57-acre back lot. Complete on-site production services and ultra-broadband connectivity are provided.

Garson Studios, located in Santa Fe, has three stages.

  • Stage A is 14,000 square feet
  • Stage B is 7,500 square feet
  • Stage C is 2,800 square feet.

Furnished production offices are offered for lease and include bullpen, kitchen, copy room, and reception areas. Wireless internet and phones are provided.

Competitive Cost of Doing Business

In addition to the tax incentives and other favorable aspects of doing business in New Mexico, there are also low electricity rates and competitive wages.

Average Retail Price of Electricity, May 2017 (Cents per Kilowatthour)

  Residential Commercial Industrial
New Mexico 12.83 10.25 6.04
California 18.29 14.93 12.20
Source: Energy Information Administration


Median Hourly Wage by Occupation, 2016

Occupation New Mexico California
Computer Programmers $36.13 $43.00
Software Applications Developers $38.89 $56.84
System Software Developers $48.80 $60.48
Information Security Analysts $51.75 $52.16
Web Developers $25.99 $36.98
Computer Network Architects $53.30 $59.24
Film & Video Editors $23.42 $37.28
Multimedia Artists & Animators $25.76 $38.59
Graphic Designers $17.44 $26.15
Audio & Video Equipment Technicians $16.45 $22.82
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2016