Working with Productions
Productions Choose Locations
Location Managers Provide Options
A production must balance the creative and financial aspects of a project. A state may be chosen for incentives and to capture “the look” of the script, but there is a combination of considerations that affect how a specific location is chosen within the state. Budget considerations include but are not limited to local crew and vendor availability, traveling distances and available local amenities. The creative considerations are countless and are primarily dictated by the script; therefore the geography, the architecture, the vegetation and the weather of an area are considered in addition to accessibility and safety. Those involved in the decision making process may include Studio Executives, Producers, the Director, and/or the Production Designer as well as input from a Location Scout and Manager. The level of authority between the creative and business representatives of a project varies on each production.
Physical Presence Requirements
Vendors must meet the physical presence requirements for their payment of services to qualify towards a production’s tax incentive. The business must be registered in New Mexico, have a specific space designated for the services with a visible sign, and critical aspects of those services must be conducted at that location. The owner or one of their employees must be a NM resident. (See NMAC 3.13.9, sections 7-10.) The production turns in to the State an invoice from that vendor and proof of payment to that vendor as part of their tax application submission.
Connecting with Productions
By the time productions are announced in the media, crew members are often already hired and researching goods and services needed for the project. To market your services to these buyers, utilize yellCast through REEL NM VENDOR declaration process. yellCast is a new generation connection search engine, providing production access to local, “film-friendly” businesses. Also consider connecting directly with the local crew members who make the production’s purchases (as relates to your business). A crew directory is available at nmfilm.com, or contact your local state or regional film office.
Production Services & Supplies
Along with choosing a location, sets often have to be built. In fact, the majority of crew works in construction. Interior set-building requires a sound stage or a suitable warehouse; the purchase of lumber, paint, and plaster; and the rental of lifts and other heavy equipment. Set dressing and costume departments make purchases and rent from antique stores, thrift shops, wholesale merchants, and retail stores. Every production office needs telecommunications, paper supplies, office supplies, furniture and copy machines. Some of the other types of businesses, services or companies needed are: local car rental companies, travel agencies, hotels, motels, apartment and home rentals, portable bathrooms, mechanics, locksmiths, security, dentists, medical specialists, body workers, portable air conditioning and heating, propane, garden stores, specialty foods, bakeries…the list goes on. Many crew members keep a list of vendors related to their services as they never know what they will be asked.
Purchases by Crew
Every film or television project is set up per global industry standards. Unit Production Managers hire department heads for the various crafts. Heads and/or Keys have a second in position (“Best Boy”) who hire and manage the crew. Buyers in a department are responsible for a given budget and are the people who will be looking for local vendors. The relationships between buyers, who are most often local residents, and a vendor are key to repeat business. Crew value the vendor’s understanding of the nature of the business often as much as the services or goods provided. Ultimately, crew is always looking for the best and most efficient purchasing opportunities whether you’re a restaurant or a lumber yard.
Depending upon your business type, determine which film department applies to your business and then send a brief description with contact information to the local residents that work as Keys or Buyers of those departments. Visit “Industry 101” on this website for job descriptions and pathways and view the videos posted here. You may also review the job positions covered by the New Mexico film technicians’s union, the IATSE Local 480, as the majority of buyers are members and are making these purchases.
How “film-friendly” is your company? Being flexible, fast and detailed will make all the difference. Quick response time is vital and having a point person can be extremely helpful. Designate one person as the main contact for all production inquiries, and the employees who come into first contact with industry clients should know to whom they should be directed. Be prepared for unusual requests which may include large or unique orders, last minute needs, atypical store hours, etc. Discount rates are also common for large orders. Be sure to evaluate how accommodating you would like your business to be to the production and not hinder relationships with other clientele. Setting up accounts with the production may also be an option and assist with repeat business.
According to nmfilm.com, if a production cannot find what they need in New Mexico, a local company may be engaged to find or subcontract goods or equipment from out-of-state, preferably one that already provides similar services and inventory. For the purposes of qualifying a vendor expense for the incentive program, “like-inventory” means the goods or equipment provided by the subcontractor relate to the local vendor’s ordinary course of business and NM inventory. In other words, the inventory provided by the local vendor and the out-of- state vendor usually would be utilized by the same craft department(s). The invoice would be from the local vendor only. Insurance and shipping paperwork on the subcontractor level may reference the local vendor. Building relationships with out-of-state industry vendors, having a line-of-credit, determining timelines and understanding insurance requirements should be considered to provide this service, especially for large orders. (“We need 1000 pink, round pillows by tomorrow morning!”)
Film companies are temporary businesses often overseen by another entity such as a studio. It will depend how much of your business is film-related, the variety of industries you cater to, if your business is unique to the industry, and the location of your business. Relationships and references are particularly vital; if your business is film-friendly, the word will spread. If you help the production problem-solve, even if it’s referring them to another business, it will help build that relationship.
Any costly purchases or rentals for a film project will mostly be conducted with a Purchase Order (PO). This is the standard industry practice, excluding petty cash, and companies will often need to accept POs. Sometimes, accounts are set up directly with the accounting departments and a buyer can provide you with the right contact to sort that out. Payments are scheduled like any other business; however due to the rapid nature of film and television production, it is highly recommended to invoice right away or at least in a timely fashion. In some instances, a deposit may be considered. If your arrangement changes, consider getting that in writing. If you do not receive a payment from a production and their local offices have closed, contact the New Mexico State Film Office (nmfilm.com) for their post- accounting contacts. (A production cannot receive their tax credit until all financial obligations to NM vendors are met.)
It’s not just the businesses that have worked directly with a production that can benefit from the industry. Photos or quotes from Talent (given permission) in your business promotion, naming a menu item or room after a celebrity patron, tying in a project’s story line (upon project release) to your business or location, or even products, are suggestions to be researched. To learn more about film tourism, visit nmfilm.com (NM State Film Office) and newmexico.org (NM State Tourism Department).