New Film Law 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 on our website’s online directory. Productions often list cast and 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. 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 on our home page. Because of confidentiality and client relationships, we can not verify a productions 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” in our online Bulletin Board 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 the Bulletin Board 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. See “Printed Industry Publications” under Professional Organizations in the “Project Resources” section of the website. If you are a film union or guild member, your organization may have additional information before it is published on our website.