The View From Down Under

Okay, it’s been a while since I gave an update on the local film industry, as seen from the trenches. Hold on to your soft sticks, boys and girls, I’m about to lower the boom.

If you live in southern New Mexico and have been paying any attention at all to the news, you’ve probably already been bombarded with the same vague promises, unorthodox decision making and baffling announcements to which the rest of us in the local filmmaking community have been subject. No, I won’t be going into any more detail here. That’s what Google is for. Even so, some things are worth saying, even if they do call down the wrath of the demagogues.

In February of last year, I wrote what turned out to be one of the last entries to my column Through The Lens in the Las Cruces Bulletin. The article was titled How Do You Support Local Film? and in it I raised questions about whether or not the big dogs, the current power brokers, actually had the best interests of local filmmakers in mind, or were simply too busy trying to recreate the wheel. That article made a lot of people very uncomfortable, which was the point, but like so many articles of its kind it was quickly swept under the rug, apologies were made (not by me) and company “restructuring” made the column expendable. Not the first time it’s happened. I doubt it will be the last.


Hey Dave, we’ve got something for you…


One thing I have learned in the past year or so is that, though Las Cruces may be the second largest city in New Mexico, it is still very much a small town, where opinions outside those of the majority – or at least the popular power brokers – is not only frowned upon, it is vehemently discouraged. Oh, well, I’ve never been very good at going along with the popular vote. Especially when the popular vote is so flawed and unwieldy it seems to have somehow leapfrogged right over the 20th century to bring its Victorian ideals into the Space Age. Forgive the overgeneralization, but sometimes making a living here in the Borderlands really is like making an argument for toothpaste in Medieval Europe.

The choices put forward, when it comes to popular opinion, tend to be, 1) agree with everything that is being presented, or 2) shut the hell up. Ah, but there is a third option. One I have been very happily championing for decades. That is, if you don’t agree with the popular vote and you’re pretty sure you can do it more efficiently – and, more importantly, within a reasonable timeframe – then make it happen. Don’t wait for the lollygaggers to catch up. It’ll happen in time. Because if you are successful at bringing your dream to fruition and it does prove more effective than what is being posited by the big dogs, they will be forced to recognize your efforts. If for no other reason but that they can take credit for them, later. C’mon, we all know how this works…

Thomas Alva Edison Holding a Lightbulb
Taking credit for the work of others is a time-honored American tradition.


So, here we are. Just about half way through 2016 and while the “talks” continue about a studio/backlot for Las Cruces, and while El Paso begins gearing up to lobby legislators for their own tax incentive bill, we here at Borderlands Media have been making deep inroads of our own. Not only do we have the first season of Platicas finishing up its initial run on KRWG and a second season fully in the works – an endeavor which is employing local talent while also making a contribution to the community at large – we’ve also got the pilot for the Sins Of Man anthology in pre-production, along with a handful of other projects that should keep us busy for the rest of the year.

Among those other projects, which include short films and script doctoring on at least two feature films, Borderlands Media has been providing important post-production support to Mark Medoff’s latest feature The Heart Outright and El Paso filmmaker David Noble’s latest effort The Lost Padre Mine. We have also successfully found a home for PRC Production’s first feature film Truth, both on DVD and VOD via iTunes and Amazon Prime, with more in the works. In addition, we are working with Project Main Street to create a mini-documentary on the 45th anniversary of the growing Farmer’s & Crafts Market.


We’re workin’ it like Ru, baby!


It’s all very exciting and because we’re actually out there, doing the footwork necessary to make these vital connections, Borderlands Media and its sister company PRC Productions, are quickly making a name for themselves as the go-to production house in the Mesilla Valley. As I type this, PRC Productions is in negotiations with a production company from New York to co-produce a feature film, part of which will be shot in the area. In addition, very promising meetings with like-minded professionals in El Paso are opening doors to future possibilities. In a very short time, we could begin seeing some real payoffs to our efforts, which in turn will lead to more jobs for local filmmakers and, hopefully, draw attention to southern New Mexico as a film base. With or without the much ballyhooed studio/backlot.

None of which is meant to imply that a studio/backlot in Las Cruces is unnecessary. I still think it could be quite the boon, if handled correctly. Instead, we like to think that while the politicians and their committees are hemming and hawing over just how they should spend the money they have wrested from the New Mexico legislature, we have been laying the true groundwork. We could really use some of those millions being bandied about, but we’re doing okay without it, in true independent style. So, if and when they actually do build something – feelings of adequacy aside – we hope to have a thriving independent film community doing what every vital film industry should be doing: making movies, documentaries and television series. That’s what my article was about 15 months ago and it’s still what all of this effort is about today.


Today southern New Mexico… tomorrow, the world?


I’m guessing, if all goes according to plan, we’ll probably need a studio here at some point. Unless, of course, El Paso beats Film Las Cruces to the punch and builds its own studio, which could very well happen. If they don’t get off their duffs, it WILL happen. And just as the Santa Fe studio couldn’t compete with the Albuquerque studios, resulting in a very hush hush bankruptcy (quickly swept under the rug hereabouts, because they don’t want you to know about stuff like that), Las Cruces may just find themselves sitting on a white elephant, too far back on the evolutionary ladder to prove viable.

That is, of course, my opinion and mine alone. As I implied earlier, it is far from popular. I don’t really care. Like it or not, we’re all working in the same direction. My hope all along has been that what we are doing with Borderlands Media will at some point dovetail with the plans being put forth by the big dogs at Film Las Cruces and the City Council. It could still happen. The marketing for their efforts appears to be centered on “putting local filmmakers to work and bringing in much needed revenue to the community.” We want that, too. But while for them it still appears to be a barely attainable dream firmly attached to the erection of an edifice, for us, it is a day-to-day reality.

I’m okay with that, even if some of the power brokers aren’t. I’m not hurting anybody by disagreeing with their choices. I guess I just have higher expectations than most. I know I have much thicker skin. And I know what it takes to make dreams a reality. There’s only so much talking that any of us can take. Action isn’t just a go word in the industry. It’s a much-needed element for success. Whether some want to admit it, or not, the race is on. Anybody truly interested in this long-shot gamble should probably consider placing their bets on the underdogs, because that’s where the real progress is being made.


Watch and learn, Goliath. There’s work to be done!

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