The industry and those who work in it are taking note to the recent rankings and growth in New Mexico.
In 2020, Alexis Berent and Alejandro Rodriguez, a young couple from Michigan made the decision to move to New Mexico after job opportunities dried up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As two graduates-to-be from Eastern Michigan University, Alexis and Alejandro were like any other college graduates in their senior year beginning to make plans to secure jobs. They considered moving to Chicago as well as remaining in their home state.
“I received a few offers to interview for some local news stations and Alejandro was a few steps into the interview process to be a promotions producer. It seemed like everything was falling into place. Alejandro and I knew that wherever we went we wanted to go together, whether we stayed in Michigan or not, so the fact that we were getting job offers in the same area was amazing. Then COVID hit and the jobs were gone. One month before graduation and all of the plans we made vanished. We had no idea what to do and started looking into Chicago again or maybe even Atlanta,” said Berent.
“Los Angeles was not in the cards financially even before the pandemic, so when that was nixed we looked at Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City. After we couldn’t fully initiate a move to Chicago, or anywhere on our list, it seemed like staying in Michigan would be the move, but the world shut down, hiring freezes were set in place, and we felt like there was little to no hope until a simple google search and an article changed the trajectory of our lives,” said Berent
Alexis, determined to pursue the couples dreams as filmmakers, searched the internet for ‘best cities for filmmakers to live’ hoping to find options outside of the obvious choices. The first article she came across was Best Places to Live and Work as a Filmmaker by MovieMaker Magazine, and saw Albuquerque, New Mexico was ranked number one.
“I was shocked because I never would have even considered it in the top ten. So we started doing more research and found more articles and stories about how the film industry is booming in New Mexico, and I just knew it was where we needed to go. I always trust my gut and it told me that this was the move for us. We had already spent the past year saving up to move to a big city, and it is actually more affordable than other places we were considering,” said Berent.
“The first time I was told to keep an eye on Albuquerque was in my Industrialization of American Cinema class at Eastern Michigan University in 2018. My professor mentioned, in passing, that the state of New Mexico began picking up traction and attracting productions with enticing tax incentives and a topography similar to that of California, and that specifically Netflix was a company betting on the state big-time. To be honest, I don’t think I thought of New Mexico for at least 15 months after that lecture,” said Alejandro Rodriguez. “The article left us dumbfounded when Albuquerque triumphed over places like Atlanta and Toronto.”
After lots of planning, research, and finding the perfect apartment, the couple packed up a moving truck and started their three-day drive to New Mexico.
“Something about New Mexico seemed right. We weren’t taking the biggest financial risk thanks to the state’s low cost-of-living, and we could potentially be in the best place to start our careers and quickly move up. We had nothing to lose. We learned everything we could about Albuquerque, the state’s film industry beyond the massive Netflix investments, got some virtual tours, and now we live right in Downtown Albuquerque,” said Rodriguez.
“We have now lived in New Mexico for three months and love it so far! I know we made the right choice, we have already found many opportunities in our new state and I am excited to see what our future here holds,” said Berent.
The couple added, “In such a short time we have already been able to find work. Which is all we could ask for. We have each been hired as production assistants for two features now, and have both been cast as background actors a few times. I am living my dream of being a working actress in a big city, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
“As the secret gets out, it feels like New Mexico – Albuquerque specifically – is primed for an entertainment business boom. First and foremost, human safety and health is the priority. Once the vaccine is out I can see New Mexico undergoing an economic boom once
the normal workflow of production can resume,” said Rodriguez.
For the complete details and the 2021 list of Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker visit MovieMaker.com. The issue is available on newsstands on February 2.