Below the line:April 2007

A monthly column following recent events in the New Mexico’s growing film industry.




Hello Campers!


Thanks for joining me as I embark on a new career as a crew member on one of the several major motion pictures that are now filming in New Mexico. I’m currently studying in the Santa Fe Community College’s Film Crew Technical Training Program, which is endorsed by the local union (IASTE 480), the New Mexico Film Commission, and the ol’ G’vner himself, Bill Richardson.


In this program, we train for positions “below the line”the grips and gaffers, sound guys and production assistants–not the cameraman, director, art director, or the many assistants. Those guys get the BIG credits and are “above the line.” As major film and indie productions come to the state, there is a growing need for crews to assist the folks who come out here from LA. Studios also get a nice tax incentive for hiring a certain percentage of New Mexico workers, so it’s a win-win for everyone.



Hollywood film production, even in New Mexico, is governed by a fairly strict set of rules known as set etiquette. So what we learn in class and in our studio and location shoots is not only our craft, but also how to act on a set. And I don’t mean acting per se, but how to do your job, who to talk to and NOT talk to, and how to do good work and get noticed. We’re told that if we don’t burn down the set or kill anyone, or try to get chummy with the actors or any above the line workers, we’ll probably make it as a paid (or unpaid) production assistant until we can join the union and really go to town.



This column will be my way of letting you peek into this this world, as I complete the classes and move into the real world of film production and a member of a real crew. It might take a while to get there, but I hope we make the journey together. Have any questions or comments? I’ll get back to you in my next column.


Until then, keep watching this space for new developments and don’t step on any cables!



-Mike (the future) PA



Coming up soon:


Work on Comanche Moon, and an extra in Wild Hogs!


2 Responses

  1. Hey Mike,
    I’d hire you if I was shooting a movie. I know you are talented and I love your writing style too.
    Cheers, Canada Blues……

  2. This is what it’s all about Margo! Thanks for blogging our new site, the true beginning of the Event City Network! If you enjoy writing as Mr. Michael says you do, please send us some ideas at the Event City Creative Blog – address above. This will be the Internet’s Online Zine for the Events & Creative Industries!!

    We appreciate any and all feedback, and certainly from such a scholarly lady as yourself, I’m sure you can send us some great advice!!


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