History Profile

Filmmaking in Otero County, NM

FAQ: Have there really been a number of films made in Otero County?

New Mexico has had a long history of filmmaking with the very first film produced in New Mexico’s northern Indian Day School by the Thomas Edison film crew in 1898. Historically, the earliest filmmaking locally, are three western films by Power Productions documented as being made in Otero County in 1911. These films titles are: Brothers, Fool’s Gold and The Dude. This distinction makes Otero County, New Mexico older in filmmaking than New Mexico is in statehood, since it was not made a state of the United States of America until 1912.

The Cox Ranch was on the Otero County side of WSMR. In 1911 ghost-town Organ, NM was the closest Territorial Stage & Postal Stop. Photo Courtesy of John Armijo-NM Film Office Historian

2018 is the 107th Year of Film in Otero County. During that time, over 58 feature-length films are listed officially on the benchmarked Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB), industry historical film site. The film office website, www.filmotero.com has a partial listing of the more recent projects. Growth in film for Otero County has included some of these recent features since 2006: Afterwards, Year One, Transformers I & II, The Land of Space & Time, Men Who Stare At Goats, Stargate-Universe, A&E Extreme Ghosthunters, The Book of Eli, This Must Be The Place, Jackie, Into the Night, Atari: Game Over, Carlsbad and in 2017 Jerry Bruckheimer’s 12 Strong, (Horse Soldiers); and many others. Currently there are other types of filming in production on an ongoing basis. Presently, Otero County averages about 70 diverse production types a year, including commercials, documentaries, television, fashion, music video, independent and feature film combined.

FAQ: What is the greatest asset drawing the NM Film Industry to Otero County?

Without question, it is the people of Otero County. Otero County experiences a lot of return filmmaking. This is possible because the people of Otero are not like any other community. Time and again, filmmakers, directors and producers have sworn to return, in spite of the more remote location, and the lack of organized studios, it is the people they compliment, and the way that they are treated here. Citizens of Otero County are friendly and warm, greeting film projects with pleasure, expressing interest and being helpful if needed, and then leaving them in the privacy needed to pursue their craft. The Otero County Film Office considers this the highest of all compliments, and it is very satisfying to see the local economic impacts upon the community as the New Mexico film industry continues to move forward. It is a fact that NM Film Works. For more information check out filmography here and you may go to the state website www.nmfilm.com for more New Mexico filmmaking history there.