In the last decade, New Mexico established itself as a powerful player in film and television, hosting big-budget movies and acclaimed TV series like The Avengers and Breaking Bad. Seasoned crews, varied locations, full-service movie studios, and competitive incentives have ensured that production will continue to come to New Mexico.
Yet, in some ways, the local industry is still at the whim of decision-makers from outside the state. We at Blue Sky Producers Lab believe it’s time to build a sustainable model for the industry where local creatives drive the content and New Mexico represents more than a backdrop for other people’s visions.
However, for content creators without connections to Hollywood, achieving that goal has been elusive, and obtaining the necessary financing and distribution has been the biggest challenge.
Blue Sky Producers Lab is here to fill that crucial gap.
Run by industry veterans with decades of experience, Blue Sky will focus on developing scripts and concepts, building budgets, and packaging projects that can compete in today’s marketplace.
Once packaged, Blue Sky will partner with local companies, like InvestNewMexico and Turquoise Trail Releasing, to seek production financing and distribution for locally-conceived movies, TV shows, and other media.
Blue Sky will issue a call for treatments, scripts, and short films that can be made into features, then select up to five of the most promising projects. Initially, preference will be given to projects that can be produced in New Mexico, with budgets under $5 million.
Blue Sky intends to create projects that will ensure steady work for local creatives and crew members, keep production and profits in New Mexico, and develop the next generation of producers.
New Mexico’s film and television industry creatives are ready to become active participants in determining their future. Blue Sky Producers Lab will lead the way to help creatives plot their projects’ course.
Kenneth Segura Knoll is a native New Mexican whose first exposure to moviemaking was as an extra in the classic, indie film Easy Rider. He was part of Gov. David Cargo’s first film training program and worked on the ABC Movie of the Week Sweet Hostage with Martin Sheen and Linda Blair. He completed his degree in film and television directing from California State University, Sacramento. He built and managed Delta Studios for 12 years. With over 500 productions under his belt, he has experience in all aspects of production. In 1995, he founded the Sacramento Festival of Cinema and was honored last year at its 20th-anniversary celebration. Upon returning home to New Mexico, he formed Turquoise Trail Releasing (www.turquoisetrailreleasing.com). He is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the company, overseeing capital-raising, project selection, contract negotiations, foreign sales, and domestic distribution. In the recent past, he served as consulting producer of finance and distribution and as music supervisor on the film Sunbelt Express. Knoll currently is the creator, producer, writer, and director of the TV sitcom Almost Americans. His other projects include Hang the Innocent, a western miniseries, and Fight in the Meadow, a film set in Las Vegas, NM in the early 1900s, centered on legendary heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson. In addition to his work in film, television, and music he has created a New Mexico “centric” crowd funding portal (www.InvestNewMexico.us) to help raise funds for projects.
Anthony DellaFlora is probably best known as one of the co-founders of the Flicks on 66/Duke City Shootout, the world’s first filmmaking festival. DellaFlora supervised script selection at the annual competition, where hundreds of current IATSE crew members and dozens of writer/directors got their first taste of the movie business. He was also co-executive producer of the festival, which produced more than 70 short films. His production company, Taos Communications Empire, has produced several documentaries, including the cult classic High Strange New Mexico and The Language of Spirituality. DellaFlora has also written or co-written several optioned screenplays, including Dead by Thursday and Duke City. DellaFlora has also produced television programming for KNME-TV (PBS), including the acclaimed Painting Albuquerque and Sleeping Monsters, Sacred Fires: Volcanoes of New Mexico. He currently produces TV programming for the City of Albuquerque’s GOV-TV and for the Public Art program. The latter garnered him a Rocky Mountain Emmy for the public art documentary Flight Path. Prior to the film and TV business, he was a journalist for 25 years.
Sean Cardinalli has worked for 20 years as a screenwriter, script analyst, script coordinator, and copywriter. His entrée into Hollywood was as a creative executive on the Artisan Entertainment development team which brought The Blair Witch Project, Requiem For a Dream, and The Limey to the big screen. While at Artisan, he attended the Sundance and Urbanworld film festivals, and his script notes got him into meetings with the likes of Spike Lee. Cardinalli later became one of the top script analysis for a world-class talent agency, ICM. He also analyzed for SummitEntertainment, NewMarket Films, and Walden Media and has completed a dozen original screenplays. Before picking up production work on Terminator Salvation and the CW’s Easy Money, Cardinalli’s screenwriting got him into New York’s famed IFP Market. He holds a BA in English Literature from UC Berkeley and is pursuing a Master’s degree in history.
Daniel Landes retired from South Dakota State University in 2011, where he served as the Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences and as a professor of English for 8 years. Landes has written, directed, and acted in a number of plays and short films in both college and community productions. Originally from Williston, ND, Landes earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of North Dakota. Landes lives in Rio Rancho, NM where he continues to pursue his love of script writing and film production. Landes has completed a number of screenplays since moving to New Mexico, including a western, Hang the Innocent; a boxing script, Fight in the Meadows (based on Jack Johnson’s boxing match in Las Vegas, NM in 1912); and a romantic comedy Bowl Off. Landes also serves as a writing consultant for the television project Almost Americans. Earlier in his career, Landes served as director of the theater program at the University of North Dakota-Williston where he produced a number of plays, including One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest, Bus Stop, Crimes of the Heart, The Good Doctor, and Mornings at Seven. While serving as the head of the English and Languages department at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, he received an Oklahoma Arts Council grant to produce a play he wrote entitled Governor, Governor. In 2011, with a grant funded by the South Dakota Humanities Council and the SDSU English department, he wrote and co-produced the short film Danny’s New Teeth, directed by Aaron Toronto.
Jose Jehuda Garcia, Esq. is a member of the New Mexico State Bar. Garcia earned his Film degree at New York University and his law degree at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. He is a production veteran with credits that include content for the syndicated TV newsmagazine Extra, the E! Network, Telemundo, NatGeo, and Discovery. His efforts in indie production go back more than 20 years, and he was a co-producer on the Maverick Entertainment Group release Death by Engagement. Additionally, he has worked as a full-time attorney for the national cable network Reelz, based here in Albuquerque. Garcia is a member of the New Mexico Lawyers for the Arts board of directors.