Double shots: Guild, Metro click

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This weekend sees the launch if "Concentric Circles: Metro L.A. Revealed," a photography exhibit showcasing the work of location managers and scouts that also documents the art and life in and around Los Angeles' Metro stations.

The project is the latest endeavor from the Location Managers Guild of America, which partnered with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. For the Metro Authority, the exhibit is a subtle way to let the production community know that the Metro is film friendly. The LMGA, however, had a different goal.

"This was an opportunity to show scouting as an art form and not a function of our craft," LMGA president Kayla Thames-Berge said.

"Concentric Circles" is LMGA's follow-up to its acclaimed "Last Looks: The Ambassador Hotel" exhibit that ran in 2006 at City Hall. That exhibit was a community project featuring photos taken by high school students and location managers of the dearly departed hotel. The LMGA's goal is to create one of these projects every couple of years.

"We want to show the unique position that location managers and scouts hold in bridging the two worlds of film and community," Thames-Berge said. "This will be a consistent theme with all guild projects since we are the ambassadors, if you will, between productions to the communities in which we film."

The exhibit, curated by the Los Angeles Art Assn.'s Peter Mays, begins Saturday and run through March 9 at the Beady Minces Gallery in Venice, Calif.

New Mexico? No problemo
'Terminator' is state's biggest shoot

"The Future Begins" is the subtitle for the next "Terminator" movie, and it might as well be the subtitle for New Mexico's film industry.

When cameras roll May 5, the fourth entry in the big-budget sci-fi franchise will become the biggest movie ever to shoot in the Southwestern state. The McG-directed production, officially titled "Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins," already has begun loading into Albuquerque Studios and will completely take over the facility's six soundstages, keeping its mill humming and offices running until the fall.

Albuquerque Studios, unions and the state banded together for a two-month courtship in order to persuade the production to come to New Mexico. Officials played up the world-class studios, open spaces, high-tech parks including the Sandia National Laboratory and the nearby Kirkland Air Force Base -- and the state's 25% production tax rebate.

"We told them: 'If you need a solar tower, here it is. If you need helicopters and jets, here they are,' " Albuquerque Studios COO Nick Smerigan said. "This will be a first for New Mexico to use all of its resources for one motion picture."

The state's look also was a selling point. "New Mexico represents an arid Western United States, which has a look and feel conducive to creating an American Gothic picture," McG said.

New Mexico was one of the first states to jump on the film-incentive program bandwagon and became a model for others. It also was one of the first to realize that rebates and incentives weren't enough and that soundstages and other infrastructure were needed in order to maintain any kind of film and television business. Its policy found success last year when Sony Imageworks decided to build a production facility in Albuquerque.

"We think we are heading toward a sustainable production center, growing it from the inside out," said Lisa Strout of the New Mexico Film Office.

Wyoming rides herd on indies

Poor Wyoming.

After being humiliated when such Wyoming-set films as "Brokeback Mountain" and "An Unfinished Life" found production homes in Canada, the state last year finally and belatedly instituted a cash-rebate program.

But before any productions could take advantage of it -- heck, before many people even knew about it -- the writers strike came along to chop the state at the knees.

"The writers strike did hold up some projects," Wyoming Film Office's Michell Howard said.

Although some productions have returned for scouting trips, a possible SAG strike is making studios antsy about greenlighting movies, making major shoots in the state an unlikely scenario any time soon.

So Wyoming is targeting indie films, which have shorter shoot times, to come to the state. It's instituting a short film contest for films that don't necessarily have to be shot in Wyoming but need to have some ties to it. The winner receives a $25,000 prize, with the money going toward their next project -- to be shot in Wyoming, naturally.

With a rebate ranging from 12%-15% depending on the criteria, the incentive program doesn't aim to compete with the New Mexicos and the Louisianas but rather the region that includes such states as Montana, Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota.
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