Written by on Jan 10, 2014. Posted in Incentive News

Mark Wahlberg war film Lone Survivor doubles New Mexico for Afghanistan

Mark Wahlberg’s true-life Special Forces drama Lone Survivor chased a competitive filming incentive programme to double the mountains of New Mexico for Afghanistan. The film tells the story of a failed 2005 mission where Navy SEALs set out to capture a Taliban commander.

Directed by Peter Berg on a relatively tight USD40 million budget, the production needed filming incentive support, which meant that the team headed for New Mexico and its 25% tax credit. California would have been more convenient, but as with so many productions the lottery system used to allocate the state’s filming incentive proved alienating.

“You can’t count on California’s lottery and frankly that’s paralysing,” said Sarah Aubrey, a producer on Lone Survivor, in comments to the Los Angeles Daily News.

“We didn’t scout locations in California, because when we were initially looking at places to shoot the movie, we knew we were going to have to be aggressive about the budget. We wanted to put everything on-screen, so from the outset we were looking for a place with a rebate so we could have extra funds to use for production.

You can’t count on California’s lottery and frankly that’s paralysing.

Sarah Aubrey, Producer

“It’s just a financial reality. It’s kind of brass tacks. We would all rather sleep in our own beds at night. It’s really difficult for our families with kids to travel out of town for work. So we would much rather be working in Los Angeles, but it is very hard," Aubrey added.

New Mexico has had a strong few years, having hosted big-budget features such as Marvel’s first Avengers movie and Johnny Depp’s The Lone Ranger, plus upcoming sci-fi Transcendence, which also stars Depp.

Albuquerque was home to crime drama Breaking Bad throughout the show’s five-season run and the international success of the series drove an increase in New Mexico’s TV incentive. Spinoff drama Better Call Saul is expected in the city later this year.

In the coming months California’s production industry will push for a more competitive filming incentive programme. Los Angeles’ new ‘film czar’ Tom Sherak has said that a formal plan will be ready before May and hinted that the convenience of California filming will be keenly promoted.

Expanding support to big-budget features and increasing the annual film fund above the existing USD100 million figure are reportedly among the main aims.

(Lone Survivor photos: Greg Peters/Universal Pictures)


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