I was delighted to see that Las Vegas (was) considering a moratorium on filmmaking. As a veteran location manager of many Las Vegas projects (including Wyatt Earp, East Meets West, John Carpenter’s Vampires and North Country), I have watched the film climate in Las Vegas steadily erode over the years. Most recently, the ambivalence (and dare I say greed) I experienced from some segments of the business community during the filming of No Country For Old Men left a bitter taste in my mouth.
So last fall, when the $80 million Denzel Washington feature The Book of Eli was searching for a quaint Main Street filming location, we decided to look elsewhere. To our great fortune, we wound up in Carrizozo, where we were greeted warmly by residents, merchants and the town trustees. The community threw us a “Welcome to Carrizozo” potluck, with 50 door prizes donated by local merchants and restaurants. The Chamber of Commerce set up a page on their website to keep local citizens informed of our production schedule and planned activities (www.carrizozochamber.org/film/eli.php). Though marked by the typical road closures, business interruptions and temporary inconveniences, everything went amazingly well. The town even threw us a thank-you party at the end of our stay. It was an incredible experience — I can’t wait to go back.
And that’s the point: No one wants to go where they’re not welcomed. Until Las Vegas decides whether it really wants filmmakers in their town, count me in with the “anti-movie” crowd.