Hollywood studios have been an exclusive bunch. You have to have big money to buy in—or you need to be a really rich outsider to break in. And even then, there's no guarantee. So how did one Indigenous tribe make such a splash making their own studio?
The Tesuque Pueblo are located just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They had an old casino and were not sure what to do with it. They saw how movies and TV shows were spending a ton of cash in New Mexico—and sometimes these productions would feature portrayals of Indigenous peoples that were stereotyped and antiquated.
So how could they become active in fixing that problem and getting a slice of the pie?
They built a movie studio.
It is the first-ever Indigenous-owned production studio and location set in history. It's called Camel Rock Studios.
Roman Duran is a member of the Tesuque Pueblo and chair of the advisory committee for the studio. Duran told the Hollywood Reporter, “We can at least be at the table to help guide, to get away from the stereotypical Hollywood portrayal."
According to the studio's website:
Camel Rock Studios has more than 100 acres of undeveloped land of varying scenic aspects, dedicated in its backlot. The backlot features an earthen 130,000-gallon water tank with a 7,500 square foot water surface area, constructed for a prior production. The tank bottom is gently sloped to a 10-foot depth to allow easy filming of lake and river scenes, the only such tank in New Mexico. The tank is situated in a scenic New Mexico setting with 270-degree sight-lines.
Productions should note that the Tesuque Pueblo is its own nation. Therefore, filmmakers will not be eligible for New Mexico’s tax incentives.
The Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation has invested $50 million in expanding the facilities at Camel Rock Studios.
Timothy Brown, president and CEO of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation, told Variety,“Casinos, inherently, if you take out all the games, are big empty spaces. So we had an events center that we did concerts in and large parties that was a big vacant space. Once we removed all the casino equipment and furniture from the casino area, that became another large vacant space, and then with any business we had an entire administrative area with cubicles and offices that became perfect for their offices to move in.”
The AMC show Dark Winds is a long-term tenant, shooting the majority of the season and there and using its offices.
This is such an amazing opportunity for a community that has been underserved in Hollywood to be a part of its own story. Not only can they help projects they believe in, but they can also see the rewards come into their nation and profit off them.
If you're looking for a place to shoot in New Mexico, check them out!
Let me know what you think in the comments.