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When Bill Richardson took office as governor of New Mexico in January 2003, one of his first priorities was the state’s film industry.
Chris Koseluk for The Hollywood Reporter checks in with the former 2008 presidential contender to discuss the state’s production boom.
Hollywood Reporter: How’s business?
Gov. Bill Richardson: It’s been a dramatic increase in the last four years. At this very moment, we have 12 films being shot here. We just announced our 100th feature. Since I’ve become governor, film and TV production has injected over $1.8 billion into New Mexico’s economy. We’ve created 2,000 direct production jobs and 1,000 others in support industries.
THR: How did you do it?
Richardson: By creating incentives for the film and television industries and convincing our legislature that the time was ideal to resume our previous leadership role in film production. In other words, we went out of our way to send a message to the film industry that we wanted them here and that we’d give them incentives to film here, if they trained our people.
THR: How do you keep business growing?
Richardson: We’re considering increasing the rebate — some other states have gone to 40%. That’s one option. The state invests in almost every production. That seems to attract a lot of filmmakers. We invest by giving low-interest loans. We get paid after the distribution of the film. So we’re patient. But, in the end, it’s working like magic.
THR: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently joked with you that you’re responsible for a large majority of Hollywood’s runaway production. How serious do you think he was?
Richardson: He and I have a very good relationship. It was a little bit kidding, but there was a little edge to it.
We’re not trying to supplant Hollywood. We want to be an adjunct to Hollywood. We want to be another option.
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