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What is it that makes an industry viable within a community?

Is it endorsements by governing bodies, business interests and media outlets? Those things certainly help – as does an influx of funding from interested parties, be they those entities listed above or private concerns – but there is one very important element needed to make any large-scale endeavor work: community support.

Without community support, you might as well be trying to sell childcare to the childless, or, as in the present case, selling filmmaking to the indifferent.

Let me just begin by saying when it comes to support by the community-at-large, filmmakers are constantly surprised at how welcoming the atmosphere here is. Our friends, relatives, co-workers and even people we don’t know personally, indulge us in our pastime. They graciously offer up their establishments, their homes and intimate parts of their lives, so that we can feed our creative egos.

Most times, they don’t even ask for anything in return, except to be part of something exciting and fun. If ever there was a place that deserved to be part of the larger picture, it is Las Cruces, New Mexico.

We have, however, reached a moment of truth when it comes to the southern New Mexico film industry. We have reached a point in which it has become crucial for those who call themselves filmmakers – whether as students at New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College or working professionals at varying levels of expertise – to stand together and pay attention to what’s happening around them.

We stand at a critical point that could decide, once and for all, whether or not Las Cruces and the surrounding areas have what it takes to be part of the game, or are just another loose rabble of wannabes too caught up in their own concerns to step up to the plate. For members of the filmmaking community in the Mesilla Valley, it’s put up or shut up time.

There are a couple of things happening currently that should be on everybody’s radar. One is the collaborative effort taking place between the City of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County and the state of New Mexico. This is big, folks. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you clearly have not been paying attention.

Now, there are a large number of people within the community who disagree with the idea of building an infrastructure in Las Cruces. Despite the tireless efforts of policy makers, film advocates and volunteer supporters from within the community-at-large to create an atmosphere of progress, some refuse to see the value in it. They all have their reasons and some of them aren’t without merit. Most, however, have more to do with personal agenda.

Here’s the deal on that: even if having a backlot built in Las Cruces wasn’t part of your plan for the future of film, if you are ever going to have your idea taken seriously, you should consider giving support to a cause that has the potential to pump some real energy into our city. This is energy that will elevate everybody and, in time, give rise to opportunities that will benefit even the many disparate ideas out there. As a community, we rise and fall together. Which is preferable?

The other happening is less monumental, but nonetheless dependent upon your support. On Wednesday, Feb. 12, during the monthly Film Las Cruces forum held at the Rio Grande Theatre, Film Las Cruces, the White Sands International Film Festival and the Regional Film Development Advisory Committee will present an evening of presentations geared to shed light on what is actually taking place in the industry today.

Two special guests from Albuquerque – Dirk Norris, former Outreach Programs Manager for the New Mexico Film Office and founder of the New Mexico Film Foundation and Janet Davidson, founding president of New Mexico Women In Film and current chair of Women in Film and Television International – will give presentations about the state of the industry as it applies to southern New Mexico. Joining them will be representatives from the RFDAC and the WSIFF, with exciting news of their own about the inroads that are being made locally.

We’re hoping for a good turnout to this event, from anybody who has any interest at all in film. The general public is encouraged to come see for themselves how this exciting industry is coming to life right in their own backyards. Best of all, it’s free of charge.

As for the filmmakers themselves, a showing of solidarity shouldn’t be too much to ask of an industry hungry for work. All we ask is that you put your differences aside and concentrate on the bigger picture. There will always be time for refinement later on down the line.

We kind of owe it to the community that has supported us through the labor pains to finally deliver on our promise, don’t y’think?

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