Filmmaking workshop planned at Civic Center

Mike Easterling

FARMINGTON — Even at the comparatively modest level at which most independent filmmakers operate, making a movie is an expensive, time-consuming enterprise – one that can easily veer into the ditch for hundreds of reasons.

Actor Michael Douglas, center, is seen during the filming of "Beyond The Reach" on Oct. 1, 2013, on North Behrend Avenue in downtown Farmington.

But a little advice from a filmmaking veteran can go a long way toward helping filmmakers working with a limited budget avoid some of those traps. That’s what the Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau hopes to offer through its “The 7 Deadly Sins of Filming on Location” workshop this weekend.

Don Gray, a contract locations coordinator for the New Mexico Film Office, will lead the workshop at the Farmington Civic Center. Tonya Stinson, executive director of the convention and visitors bureau, said Gray can serve as a great resource for novice and experienced filmmakers, especially those who are working on projects in the area.

“He has great advice for Farmington and San Juan County,” she said. “And this is a free opportunity to spend some time with him.”

Stinson said Gray will concentrate on the more common mistakes that independent filmmakers make, such as not having liability insurance.

While the film industry does not have a huge presence in the county, Stinson said it is not insignificant. She pointed to the 2014 Michael Douglas film “Beyond the Reach” that was shot in and around Farmington, and said another production was shot here this summer. She said she also had been working with another crew on a project that was based mostly in Germany.

In previous years, the bureau has provided assistance to filmmakers for such productions as the Johnny Depp adventure film “The Lone Ranger” and the Seth MacFarlane comedy “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” according to its website.

“I get a lot of inquiries, and sometimes things don’t work out,” she said. “But interest has definitely escalated.”

Stinson said San Juan County offers unique landscapes that can’t be matched elsewhere.

“And we have a reputation as a county for being very willing and open to working with (filmmakers),” she said.

Stinson said the bureau’s website features a link that helps guide filmmakers through the legal requirements of filmmaking in San Juan County, including permits, registration and applicable fees. It also can help provide them with resources regarding locations, special requests and local workers.

This will be the second film industry-related workshop the bureau has conducted, she said, explaining that a session for production assistants was held last year. Efforts such as these are designed not only to attract filmmakers to the area, she said, but to provide jobs in the industry for local workers.

“We want to put our own people to work,” she said. “We don’t want (filmmakers) to have to go out of the area.”

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: “The 7 Deadly Sins of Filming on Location,” a workshop for filmmakers led by contract locations coordinator Don Gray of the New Mexico Film Office

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22

Where: The Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St.

Admission: Free, but participants must register in advance

For more information: Call 505-326-7602 or email