Albuquerque Studios

February 18, 2015

Oasis on Eight Stages

Albuquerque Studios draws more than tourists to New Mexico.

Amy Dawes

Not every regional production facility becomes a tourist magnet after a hit series comes through.

But at Albuquerque Studios, fielding calls from Breaking Bad fans is a regular occurrence. “We constantly get calls from people who don’t know how the business works,” says Wayne Rauschenberger, senior vice-president and chief operating officer at the facility, where all five seasons of the New Mexico–set drama were produced.

“They ask, ‘Is there anything we can come out and look at?’” The answer is, sadly, no. All the sets were struck more than a year ago. The state-of-the-art lab that occupied stage one — where Walt and Jesse cooked their infamous blue meth — would have made a nice attraction, Rauschenberger notes, but the writers chose to burn it down in the show’s season-four finale.

But the studio is busy enough without a stream of civilian visitors. Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spinoff, shot there through the summer and fall, and the NBC series Night Shift is currently filming.

Since opening in 2007, Albuquerque Studios has hosted more than a dozen feature films — including The Avengers , The Lone Ranger and Terminator: Salvation — and other series, such as ABC’s Killer Women and Scoundrels.

Productions are lured by New Mexico’s tax incentives, which range from 25 percent to 30 percent, and a layout that includes eight soundstages with adjacent parking, production offices and mill space.

“We put a lot of thought into the studio design so that it’s very convenient to work here,” says Rauschenberger, who formerly managed the Culver Studios in Los Angeles.

Other assets: abundant sunshine, a flight time from L.A. of less than two hours and a growing network of local crew and vendors.

Albuquerque Studios isn’t the only production facility in town, but it’s the largest. Besides overseeing its daily operations, Rauschenberger meets with producers and studio reps to assess their needs and draft production contracts.

“Our motto is, ‘Get ‘em in, set ‘em up with everything they need, then let them do their work,” he says. “We have a great staff here, and that approach has served us very well.”

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