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Fried Light: From Hollywood to Tamalewood

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By Roger Snodgrass

All that glitters is not stardust.

New Mexico has been offering lavish lubricants to the film industry for several years now in the form of loans and tax credits.

Nothing creates the illusion of success quite like subsidies. And no place in the country has a better record for booms that bust than the western United States.

Think gold. Think oil. Think celluloid.

For a while, everybody wants the glamour. Everybody imagines the bucks. Everybody wants to get in on the act.

But guess what? Subsidies are one hard act to sustain and a harder act to follow.

There’s a bigger fool born every minute; foolish state governments are in perpetual session. Those that are fresh and relatively unburned by dream weavers and those that are attracted by bright and shiny things, are bound to make a better offer sooner or later.

What happens when New Mexico’s rundown urban locations representing the ’70s go out of style, just like the so-called open spaces of the Wild West when they ran out of horse operas?

Filmmakers are overpaid or underpaid like everybody else in this economy. Celebrity filmmakers can usually go where they want. As a rule, though not always, the risk-takers and the subprime talent are more likely to go where there’s an inducement.


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