Destinations

Film Tourism Aims to Boost New Mexico Visitations

Jul 13, 2014 9:00 am

Skift Take

The Film Office director’s idea to create apps that would let visitors view film clips while they are visiting locations where the filming took place seems like a great way to blend mobile, local and inspiration.

— Dennis Schaal

Report: Social Media Customer Service in the Travel Industry

Frank Ockenfels  / AMC

Dean Norris as Hank Schrader, left, and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in "Breaking Bad." Frank Ockenfels / AMC


A big part of the mission of the New Mexico Film Office is to lure filmmakers to come to New Mexico. But the agency, working with the state Tourism Department, also is trying to attract more tourists to come to the state to see where movies have been shot.

In an interview last week, Film Office Director Nick Maniatis said building “film tourism” is part of his agency’s strategy to strengthen the state’s film industry.

“Movies have been made here since 1898,” he said. All around the state there are locations that movie lovers can recognize, he said. “We want to tap into this.”

Maniatis said he’s worked with state Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson on a number of downloadable maps on the Tourism Department’s website. These colorful maps of various regions in the state show various film locations.

Some entries on the north-central New Mexico map, for instance include

–Chama (“Ride the vintage Cumbres and Toltec Railroad through 10,020-foot Cumbres Pass! Just like they did in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”);

–Los Alamos (“Ever wonder how New Mexico looked like Wyoming for the TV Series Longmire? Visit the Valles Caldera national Preserve — you’ll be amazed!”);

–Madrid (“The town of Madrid on the beautiful Turquoise Trail was featured in the John Travolta movie Wild Hogs. Stop at ‘Maggie’s Diner’!” );

–Santa Fe (“Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for his role in Crazy Heart. A visit to the Santa Fe Opera will make you feel like you’re in the end of the movie!” and “Take the beautiful scenic ride on State Road 41 to Galisteo — you’ll recognize the landscape from Westerns such as The Cowboys, Silverado, Lonesome Dove, and 3:10 to Yuma”).

One of his dreams for film tourism, Maniatis said, would be to create apps for smartphones and tablets that would show scenes from movies when visitors go to the location where that scene was shot.

Maniatis said some Albuquerque businesses have taken advantage of the television series Breaking Bad, which was shot in Albuquerque and centered around Albuquerque characters.

One of these businesses is Routes Rentals & Tours, a bicycle shop in Old Town Albuquerque, which offers “Biking Bad Tours.”

“People come from all around the country to participate,” said Routes owner Heather Arnold on Friday. “And we always seem to have people from the UK.”

The tour includes stops at various locations around Albuquerque that are recognizable from the show. There are several different tours, most of them based around characters from the show (“The Pinkman Experience,” “Walt’s Descent,” etc.)

Some of her out-of-town customers go on the “Biking Bad” tours as part of a Breaking Bad vacation, Arnold said. They go on the bike tour as well as the Breaking Bad tour offered by the Albuquerque trolley company.

“And they always stop at the Candy Lady, which is right next to us,” Arnold said. The Candy Lady sells the “blue meth” candy, which was created to be used as a prop on the actual show. She also sells Breaking Bad T-shirts, caps, Pez dispensers and other items related to the show.

Arnold said the fact that Breaking Bad ended last year after its fifth season has not hurt her business. “It’s in syndication,” she said.

In addition to the “Biking Bad” tours Routes also offers a “Burquewood” bike tour, which includes several locations of other productions shot there.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, in an interview Friday, said that he wants to expand film tourism here.

Gonzales said Santa Fe traditionally attracts tourists who want to experience the city’s arts and culture. “I want to broaden the definition of arts and culture to include film,” he said. “There’s lots of opportunities for Santa Fe.”

He mentioned WGN America’s soon-to-debut television series Manhattan, which is about the creation of the atom bomb during World War II. Not only is the series being shot at an elaborate set at the old Bruns Army Hospital near Santa Fe University of Art and Design, there are several locations in downtown Santa Fe that are associated with the actual Manhattan Project, the mayor said. Fans of the show probably would be interested in seeing these, he said.

But the best way to develop film tourism, Gonzales said, is to attract more television series to Santa Fe. “We need to attract shows that tell the story of Santa Fe,” he said. And the best way to do that is to continue to develop a skilled film production work force here.

Another aspect of film tourism, Maniatis said is “press junkets.” That’s where studios invite hundreds of entertainment writers from around the country to come in to preview the film or television show, interview actors and directors and write about it. The producers of Manhattan hosted such an event last month in Santa Fe, where the film is being shot. Last year there was a press junket for The Lone Ranger in the city.

Maniatis wants to encourage more productions to hold their junkets in the state. “You have hundreds of writers coming in,” he said. “They’re going to walk around, go to our restaurants and shops.” And hopefully, he said, when they write their pieces, they’ll also write about Santa Fe or wherever the event takes place.

The Film Office website also encourages cities, tribes and local chambers of commerce to appeal to film tourism in a variety of ways, such as:

–Creating webpages listing movies made in the area with location details.

–Placing standardized signs in stores with information and visual clues about those locations.

–Establishing walking or driving tours, (either self-guided or guided).

–Encouraging business to display memorabilia of films and celebrity visits.

–Having film promotional displays in public areas.

–Organizing local movie-themed events.

–Encouraging restaurants to offer aptly named dishes with a film location tie-in.

Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at www.santafenewmexican.com/news/blogs/politics

On the Web:

New Mexico Tourism Department movie maps: http://www.newmexico.org/true-film/#article81173

Biking Bad: http://routesrentals.com/tours/specialty-bike-tours-abq/biking-bad-tour/ ___

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