There’s no doubt about it: 2007 was a very good year for the film industry in New Mexico. You don’t need to look any further than the recent Academy Award nominations to prove that. In all, 14 Oscar nominations went out to films shot here in our state. Leading the pack, of course, was the Coen brothers’ crime thriller No Country for Old Men. The film landed nominations for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Tommy Lee Jones, who lent his formidable acting chops to No Country, wound up with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for another film shot here in state, Paul Haggis’ post-Iraq War mystery In The Valley of Elah. The sci-fi summer blockbuster Transformers picked up nominations for Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Rounding out the honors was the Western remake 3:10 to Yuma, which was nominated for awards in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Not too shabby a showing.
Of course, if you do want to look further for proof of the quality of films coming out of New Mexico, you can turn to the Sundance Film Festival up in Park City, Utah. This year’s festival hasn’t been the blockbuster it was in previous years. Most in the industry expected distributors to snap films up left and right due to the shortage of product caused by the ongoing Writers Guild strike. No such luck. Perhaps buyers were frightened off by the big money dumped on last year’s Sundance crop (Grace is Gone, Clubland, Slipstream, Rocket Science, Delirious--most of which didn’t even make it to theaters). Perhaps there just aren’t that many standout films this year. Regardless of the downturn in fortunes, New Mexico is looking good. Last week, Focus Features shelled out $10 million for the comedy Hamlet 2. The films stars British comic Steve Coogan and is about a high school drama coach who tries to solve his department’s financial woes by creating a belated sequel to Shakespeare’s celebrated work. The film was shot last fall in and around Santa Fe and cost only about $9 million to make. Trade paper reports said an all-out bidding war erupted in the wake of the film’s Sundance premiere. The final price makes this one of the biggest sales in the history of the festival and easily the most money doled out for any film in this year’s fest.
And then there’s the story of “Extreme Makeover: Home Editon.” Producers of the popular ABC TV series came to Albuquerque to film an episode in which a family home in the Trumbull Village neighborhood was remodeled. The same day they revealed the new house, the show’s utility truck was stolen from the parking lot of an Albuquerque hotel. Earlier in the week, a crew member’s vehicle was broken into while parked at the hotel, the Embassy Suites near I-25 and Lomas. Good for you, Albuquerque!