The Borderland's film community is booming
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) — For decades, the movie industry has been moving away from Southern California to other regions, including the Southwest.
New Mexico has become a film production magnet, thanks largely to big tax incentive programs. That's having a big impact on the local film scene here in the Borderland, where creatives are seeing an opportunity to turn their passion into a profession.
The cameras are rolling in Southern New Mexico, where film production has pumped millions of dollars into the local economy.
Jonathon Sepp is the head of Film Las Cruces, a nonprofit that promotes the film and entertainment business in southern New Mexico.
Earlier this year, a California-based company called 828 Productions announced a $75 million investment in Las Cruces. It plans to build a 300,000-square-foot studio and 20-acre backlot, bringing as many as 100 full-time jobs to the area.
Texas does not offer the same tax incentives that are offered in New Mexico. Despite that, a lot of film production in Texas has been centered around Austin. But that's starting to change, thanks to a new wave of talented creators coming from El Paso.
Carlos de la Torre is a local filmmaker who has been a tireless champion of film production in the Borderland. His company - Tower Productions - has made several short films and produces a weekly podcast that focuses on the film industry.
The film industry's focus on Austin was due largely to filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, and his ex-wife Elizabeth Avellan, who both created Trouble Maker Studios. Avellan was in El Paso this month, as part of a panel discussion focused on the benefits of local filmmaking.
The panel discussion this month was sponsored by Destination El Paso in conjunction with the El Paso Film Festival, which celebrated its fifth-anniversary last week.
Carlos Corral is also a local filmmaker who founded the El Paso Film Festival.
Corral works regularly on sets in Southern New Mexico and West Texas and believes that the future is bright when it comes to the local film scene.
But in order for El Paso to attract film production, it needs infrastructure.
And that's where Star Central Studios comes into the picture.
Gilbert Jorgenson founded his company in 2020. It's what's known as a rental house, where local filmmakers can rent the same equipment used on professional shoots.
But it goes beyond rentals, Star Central also provides local filmmakers with a learning laboratory, where they can experiment with incredibly expensive cameras and lenses that would otherwise be unobtainable.
And Star Central recently opened a post-production facility, where locals can edit their films - without having to commit to expensive editing rigs.
Right down the street at Axxess MultiMedia - aspiring creatives are learning from some of the best filmmakers in the city. This Visual Scope film workshop focused on everything from music videos to narrative techniques.
Local cinematographer Raul Hernandez has been working for years to elevate the scene in El Paso. And he's not alone.
Julian Nunez is a filmmaker who helped create a TV show called "Entre Fronteras," which was recently sold to the Spanish-language streaming service Canela Media.
The cinematic success stories don't end there.
Earlier this month, the Femme Frontera Filmmakers Showcase brought together an impressive level of local talent, including native El Pasoan Cristina Ibarra, a documentarian who was recently awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant.
Femme Frontera was founded in 2016 as a way to amplify films made by women and non-binary filmmakers from border regions around the world. The showcase last month also featured El Paso native Iliana Sosa, whose award-winning documentary “What We Leave Behind” is currently streaming on Netflix.