Industry FAQs

Where can I learn about the job positions for productions?

Also in this section, you will find definitions of the majority of job positions in production. There is also a visual of the Chain of Command.

What does “Above-the-Line” and “Below-the-Line” mean?

These terms evolved in reference to the budget line of a production. “Above-the-line” is a film and television industry term derived from where the money is budgeted for creative talent, writers, directors and producers. This term means job positions that are associated with the creative or financial control of a film or multimedia project, not the technical aspects. “Below-the-line” is a film and television industry term derived from where the money is budgeted for technical crew working on a film or multimedia project as well as for costs related to the studio, equipment, travel, and location. In regards to job positions, this term means technical crew working in temporary positions and these individuals do not have creative or financial control of the project nor receive residuals. (Post-production crew is typically a separate budget and includes different crew positions.)

Is acting “Below-the-Line”?

Extras are considered “Below-the-Line”; however, featured actors (principal talent) are considered “Above-the-Line”.

What is a Production Assistant (P.A.)?

Some will say that a P.A. does what nobody else wants to do! It’s an entry level job yet extremely important. It may include a wide range of tasks from clerical work, getting coffee, driving producers, wrangling extras to tracking talent. It is a stepping stone; however, you must do this job well in order to move on. The keys to being a good P.A. are listening and taking direction. Be reliable, aware, efficient and resourceful. Becoming a production assistant may expose you to the various career paths available in film. You will start gaining experience and meeting people, including union members, in higher positions within the departments that interest you.

Can the New Mexico Film Office help me get a job on a film/video projects?

The New Mexico Film Office is a division of the New Mexico Economic Development Department and was developed to be of service to the state’s film industry both locally and internationally. As a state agency, the Film Office does not hire and is not involved in the hiring of crew or any other position for productions. However, we do have many resources on our website and do our best to send all those with inquiries in the right direction.

How do I become an extra? Where do I find out about casting calls?

You can contact Extras Casting Directors or Talent Agencies such as those listed in our website’s online directory. Productions often list cast and crew calls here (Casting Calls) or here (Crew Calls) and/or in the local papers and radio/television announcements.

What do I do if I am in school and want to work on a film set during the summer?

It is best to apply to a production in a position that will begin and finish within your available time to work. Limiting your availability will limit your hirability.

Will I be able to continually work in this industry?

We hope to continue to grow the NM film industry. However, no matter where you live, there is never a guarantee of (continual) employment in this industry. It is an unpredictable business and as a crew member working from project to project, you may be employed by several companies in the course of a year. Sometimes there is a lag between projects; therefore some crew members may supplement their income through a business or an additional job, particularly when transitioning into this industry. With the interest and support of NM film, as well as New Mexico’s versatile locations, the NMFO is working hard to maintain the momentum of film productions shooting in our state.

Can I work if I am a minor?

Contact the New Mexico Department of Labor for state laws regarding minors working on film/video projects. (Information about these laws is also available on our website under the “Locations” section.) NM child actors have additional guidelines and may require a Studio Teacher or Tutor on set. Per the Federal Child Labor Laws, if you are under 18 and there is hazardous equipment on a job site, you can not legally work. If a production employs minors for other work such as a Production Assistant in a non-hazardous working environment (i.e. no heavy equipment in the vicinity or other hazardous conditions) and presuming the production’s insurance covers minors, school-age children in New Mexico may be employed. However, employment of a child under the age of 16 requires the child to obtain a student work permit from either their superintendents office or the Department of Labor. Check with the Department of Labor for complete details and review this document. It is the responsibility of the production company to keep the work permit certificates on file and to keep a list posted of all children working there. Employers must also comply with Federal Child Labor Laws.

How do I get a job as a Production Assistant (P.A.)?

The first job can be the hardest job to get. Many jobs in the film industry require experience; however, you can’t get a job without experience. However, many employers do not expect those applying for a P.A. position to have film experience. It is sometimes about giving a person a good reason to give you a foot in the door. That reason could be great attitude, lots of energy, reliability and/or other transferable skills. Be persistent but not annoying.

Where do I get information on productions shooting in New Mexico?

Productions that have been officially announced in a press release give us information that is listed under “In Production” in the “Public Interest” section of this website. Press releases, most often released when the production offices are opening, are also listed here. Because of confidentiality and client relationships, we cannot verify a production’s intentions or activities without permission from the company….even if information has been posted in industry trades and websites.

Where do I submit my resume to get work in an entry level position?

The New Mexico Film Office does not accept resumes; however, consider submitting your resume to a Line Producer or Unit Production Manager (UPM), as they are often the first to hire local crew. Many of these professionals are listed in the online Industry Directory. In addition, consider emailing your one-page resume to other crew members who would potentially hire you. As an example, often the Assistant Production Office Coordinator will hire Office Production Assistants. Second Assistant Directors may hire Set Production Assistants. It is not recommended to phone these members directly or email very often. Also consider looking online under “Crew Calls” here for additional experience.

What should my film resume say?

A film resume should always be one-page no matter how long you have been in the business. A second page is rarely even noticed and more often lost. Your name and contact info should be clearly stated. The position you are applying for should be listed (skip “objective.”) Next list applicable film credits to the position you are applying for (most recent year/title of production/your position, etc.) If you do not have any film credits, you can list transferable experiences or skills. It’s not a bad idea to state the obvious like having reliable transportation and/or tools, kits, laptop. It is not recommended to list every title of every student film you have been involved in. Consider adding “worked on 10 student films in various positions from 2005 to 2008.” Co-relating seminars and certifications should be listed. At least one reference with contact information is recommended. List education last if it fits. Consider submitting a resume for every position you are applying for even if each resume is very similar. (Productions most often file resumes by position.)

Can I work part-time on a film?

Although there are “day-players” that are called in periodically during times when there is a more elaborate shooting schedule, it is difficult to be employed by a production when you have time constraints or other obligations. If you hear that someone works “part-time” in the film industry, it usually refers to the time off between film projects or working from project to project.

Can I volunteer to work on a production?

Often contracted productions, such as feature films, are not allowed to use unpaid labor. For insurance purposes, most productions will not have any “free help” on set. Also, due to the time constraints and complexity in scheduling, every person has specified responsibilities. It is recommended that you apply for an entry level position such as a Production Assistant (P.A.) if you are looking to gain set experience on a film production. Another option would be to contact your local universities and colleges to inquire about crew calls for student productions and student film festivals. Please visit here for casting calls.

How do I find out about films and television productions that are considering shooting in NM?

Even when a production announces their intention to shoot in New Mexico through a press release, the productions may ask us not to list their contact information; therefore, we cannot give it out to the public. Most often, they will allow us to post their production office’s email or fax number once they are “green-lit.” Although they are not always accurate, industry publications will sometimes list upcoming productions across the States.

What crew positions are not union?

Entry level positions such as Production Assistants, Accounting Clerks, Production Secretaries, and Caterers are not under a union/guild’s jurisdiction. Animal wranglers and Casting Directors may or may not be union though these positions require more experience. Lower budgeted projects may not have union/guild contracts. There usually is a set number of days allotted on a contracted production before you need to make a decision about membership. If a union/guild can not fill a call, they may go off-roster and productions may hire non-members. Contact the union/guild that has the jurisdiction of the job position of interest for details.

What positions are covered by the IATSE Local 480?

Please visit Local 480 for a list of below-the-line positions within this union’s jurisdiction. Unlike many technician unions in LA, this Local covers several departments. For example, set decorating, construction, grip/light/sound, hair, make-up and costume are some of the departments in their jurisdiction.

What if I am not a union member? or What if I do not have enough experience to join a union?

Each union/guild has different requirements. Please contact the union/guild that covers the film job or department of most interest to you and/or in which you have the most experience. There are options if you do not have enough experience. It may depend upon what department you are pursuing. There are times unions/guilds go “off-roster” to fill a large crew call. There are also several training programs administered by colleges and universities in New Mexico that assist with their students gaining experience to be hired on a production. Many of these programs have been developed for working individuals who want to learn more about the industry and get some initial hands-on experience to transition into entry level crew positions. Click here for a list of New Mexico universities that offer various training programs for students interested in film.

Is New Mexico a “right-to-work,” “union” or “employment at-will” state?

New Mexico is an “employment at will” state which recognizes the right to collectively bargain.

What unions should I be aware of in the NM film industry?

Many New Mexicans are members of film unions and guilds. Productions often have contracts with these unions and guilds and therefore have obligations to the unions and guilds that have jurisdiction in New Mexico for specific job positions. Some are based out of Los Angeles; others have local chapters in the state.Here are a few examples:

  • Film technician crafts: – IATSE Local 480 – Phone: 505.986.9512
  • NM Teamsters Transportation/Wranglers: Teamsters Local 492 – Phone: 505.344.1925
  • Camera: IATSE Local 600 Local 600– Phone: 323-876-0160
  • Talent: SAG-AFTRA

What if I am a musician and I am cast in a movie?

If a casting director has asked if you are union, they are most likely referring to SAG-AFTRA. If a person is on-camera and they have a speaking role, singing or talking, it is an acting position. The music that is played is a different issue and has to be legally addressed by the production company.

Is there a resource for finding local crew and vendors?

The New Mexico provides an online Industry Directory of film crew and production support services. This directory not only provides contact information, it gives productions an idea of how expansive and extensive our crew and vendor base is in New Mexico. It is often one of the first contact points for in-state and out-of-state production companies that are looking for local crew and vendors. It is also an important resource for the film community to connect with each other. Students see the various possibilities in the industry, entrepreneurs see opportunities, businesses locate their competition, and local filmmakers find valuable connections.

Is there a printed version of the online directory?

In order to give you the most updated information, listings are only online in the Industry Directory. You or your business must reside in New Mexico. It is free to register in up to six categories.

Do I need to be a New Mexico resident to list in the NMFO online directory?

Yes. The listings are divided into individual (crew) listings and support services (vendor) listings. You can list in a crew category if your primary residence is in New Mexico and you may list in a service category if your company is based in New Mexico and has a physical presence.

Are there other online directories of NM Film Crew and Vendors affiliated with the NMFO?

This website is the only online resource created, endorsed and maintained by the State of New Mexico and the NMFO.

What is the definition of New Mexico resident?

By statute, for the purposes of the tax credit incentive, the definition of “New Mexico resident” means an individual who is domiciled in this state during any part of the taxable year or an individual who is physically present in this state for one hundred eighty-five days or more during the taxable year; but any individual, other than someone who was physically present in the state for one hundred eighty-five days or more during the taxable year and who, on or before the last day of the taxable year, changed the individual’s place of abode to a place without this state with the bona fide intention of continuing actually to abide permanently without this state is not a resident…after that change of abode.” Another way of saying it is, if you pay taxes as an in-state, full-time resident, you are considered a New Mexico resident.

Can I get work on a film in New Mexico if I do not live there?

The New Mexico film incentives encourage productions to hire New Mexico residents. However, it is up to the production as to whom they employ. Note: many production company hire crew per a contractual agreement between the union/guild and the production company. Often production companies’ hires are considered “local,” “near-by,” or “distant” and have correlating pay requirements per these contracts.

Does the New Mexico Film Office offer any educational resources for those already working in the film industry?

The Pre-employment Workshop Training Program provides reimbursement funds to qualified contractors to conduct specialized, intensive workshops and lectures in subjects related to or about technical crafts. This program supports continual education and promotes honing skills to increase job opportunities for local crew. Workshops and lectures offered depend upon industry needs and instructor proposals. Be sure to also visit our Bulletin Board for all workshop announcements.

Is there a trainee-mentorship program sponsored by the state?

There is a program called the Film Crew Advancement Program available through the Job Training Incentive Program for Film & Multimedia. New Mexico offers production companies a 50% reimbursement of wages for on-the-job training of qualifying NM crew in primarily advanced, below-the-line positions. Participants must be New Mexico residents.