A courteous and generous visitor

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By The Staff

When a film crew visits Los Alamos, we can’t help but notice. The trucks and trailers park along our streets and in our parking lots. Sometimes they reroute traffic or take over a store or building. In a few cases, they even set up right outside your front door. That was the case last week, when the movie “Knockout,” brought trucks, trailers, cameras and crews to the end of Los Pueblos Road and our neighborhood. Overnight, we inherited new neighbors with a fascinating business. Councilor Wheeler had a front row seat. He lives across the street from the set activities and said that he was not affected in the least by traffic, parking, lighting or noise. Councilor Bowman’s home is located just before the barricades to the movie set.

Some of you might cringe to think of our proximity to the set — but it turned out to be a delight, not a disruption. Generally speaking, the film crews worked very hard to be “good neighbors” and did their best to minimize their impacts to our daily lives. “All the members of the cast and crew were very friendly and went out of their way to ensure that the neighborhood enjoyed a positive experience. While their presence was physically undeniable while they were here, they took great pains to leave the neighborhood as they found it — or better,” Councilor Wheeler said.

In addition we had the chance to visit the set and chat with Location Manager David Manzanares and the film’s Executive Producer Michael Polaire and were made aware of expenditures made during the 12 days of filming. Did you know that the fuel truck for “Knockout” filled up at our Conoco Hill station at least four times a day at an average of $600 a trip? That’s $28,800.  Did you also know that approximately $45,000 per week was spent at Los Alamos hotels to provide film crews a place to sleep? That’s at least another $90,000. One trip to Metzger’s Do It Yourself paid out $3,000 for emergency materials for set activities. And then there are the countless trips to Smith’s for catering items, stops at Starbucks for coffee and other errands that contributed GRT to our economy. We learned that, whenever possible, the film production company hires services from county vendors and resources. The production company pays fees to the county for traffic control and police, solid waste collection/removal and other services. These services are billed separately, at no cost to tax payers, and total between $15,000 and $18,000.

Overall, we believe that filming activities are good for business and good for our community. They are enjoyable to most residents, are temporary and contribute to our local economy. The intangible benefit, of course, is that every small step that brings positive attention to our community contributes to local businesses by attracting visitors and film activities fit that category very well with many magazines and Web sites tracking movie locations and the stars of every film. It gets our name “out there” on a national level and that’s good for us.

“Knockout” Executive Producer Michael Polaire told us that Los Alamos’ appeal to the film industry is generally related to the state incentives approved and supported by Governor Richardson, but they also like Los Alamos’ varied topography and trees, plus our unique “vintage” housing inventory. He said that distinguishes our location within the state as one that can be transformed into another part of the country or another time. He also said our “film-friendliness” and willingness to accommodate the needs of the film were a real plus that brings them back more than once.

In summary, we speak with personal firsthand experience when we say that we think Los Alamos is contributing to, and benefiting from, this industry. This is an opportunity we should continue to pursue. We encourage our community to welcome and accommodate our film visitors.