Lights, Camera, Degree



By Wade Faast, Staff Reporter

CNM now offers an associate’s degree in film technology for working in the TV and movie industries, CNM film instructor Jim Graebner said.

The new Film Technology AAS degree is designed to get students ready for gainful employment in the motion picture industry, he said.

After graduation students will be ready to work in any department on a production such as directing, editing, writing, acting and producing, he said.

Students will also be eligible to continue on to four-year programs at many of the universities around the state, he said.

“It’s like working for a well paid circus,” Graebner said.

Flexibility, stamina and sociability are important factors for success in the film industry, he said.

A sense of adventure is a must as well, tomorrow you could find yourself shooting all over the state, the country or across the world, he said.

This is not a career with predictability, every day will present new challenges and tell different stories, he said.

First year film technician student, Fernando Bustillos is pursuing the degree so he can work as a Foley artist, he said.

A Foley artist creates all the sound effects and noises you hear in a movie such as a dinosaur roar from Jurassic Park, he said.

Bustillos was drawn to the program and industry because it is not a corporate job that does the same thing everyday.

“I worked in the corporate world, I never want to do that again,” he said.

Bustillos started taking classes in film technology this summer term and has already put them to use as a grip and gaffer on a film project for the 48 Hour Film Festival this past July, he said.

The project was “Meow Meow, You’re Dead” produced by the CNM Cinecats, he said.

He was able to take the lessons he was learning in class and directly apply them to the project, he said.

He eventually wants to move into writing and directing his own projects and feels confident the new Film Technician degree will put him on the right track, Bustillos said.

The new AAS degree is an expansion of the two semester Film Crew Technician certificate that CNM has been offering since 2005, CNM instructor Charlie O’Dowd said.

The certificate program prepares students for an entry-level position as a production assistant for movies, TV shows or live theater, he said.

It is great for persons wanting to get a quick start into the industry, for those that want to continue on to other programs either at CNM or a university, or people who want a fun side job, he said.

O’Dowd is still active in the industry and will be directing the behind the scenes videos for the upcoming season of Better Call Saul for AMC, he said.

“You get to meet and work with people you would only get to read about in magazines,” he said.

Actors Bryan Cranston and Jonathan Banks of AMC’s Breaking Bad both worked with the CNM film program to create multiple videos, he said.

New Mexico began offering tax credits and incentives to the film industry over 12 years ago, with one major stipulation, in order to qualify at least 60% of the crew had to be New Mexico residents, Graebner said.

At that time New Mexico did not have enough trained crewmembers to keep up with demand so CNM worked with the State of New Mexico to organize and build a program to train the crews, he said.

Intel, Eclipse Aviation, many of the good paying industries in the Albuquerque area are either closing down or shrinking their work force, but the film industry is constantly growing, he said.

Every year for the past three years the film industry has grown in New Mexico, and they need qualified crew members more now than ever before, he said.

                                    Photos by Wade Faast/CNM Chronicle

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