Albuquerque Rail Yards set as New Mexico's Media Academy headquarters

The historic location will serve as the institute’s central hub for film and TV industry job training and workforce development

By Priyanca Rajput 3 Apr 2023

Albuquerque Rail Yards set as New Mexico's Media Academy headquarters
The Rail Yards. Credit: Steven St. John via NM Magazine

The Albuquerque Rail Yards will be the new headquarters for the New Mexico Media Academy (NMMA), a collaborative workforce development initiative that will equip New Mexico residents with skills for the film and television industry.

In a statement via the Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the initiative comes as New Mexico seeks to develop a digital media ecosystem in the state.

Previously home to multiple blockbusters including Terminator Salvation, Transformers, and The Avengers, the facility will offer industry-standard and craft-specific workforce training and job competencies for the film, television, and digital media industry, including emerging focus areas such as virtual and extended reality and volumetric production. 

Film production spending generated $1.5bn in direct spend into the state economy in the past two fiscal years with most of that coming from outside the state. A record 109 productions (55 film and 54 television) were filmed across the state last year, including AMC’s Better Call Saul, Netflix’s Stranger Things, FOX’s The Cleaning Lady, Peacock’s Poker Face, and Amazon’s Outer Range.

The academy aims to admit 1,000 students annually. New Mexico Film Partners, including Netflix, NBCUniversal, and 828 Productions, will collaborate with the NMMA and offer paid apprenticeships to students. IATSE Local 480 will offer hours toward membership for students who complete the apprenticeship to accelerate their careers.

A satellite campus will also be located in Las Cruces to serve southern New Mexico. Following completion in the Boiler Room location of the Yards, the NMMA will house: traditional sound stages, volumetric stages, classrooms, offices, lab, post-production and flex spaces, as well as industry-standard equipment and technology across both campuses. 

“State and city partnerships like these are how we create transformative change for New Mexicans,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “Our students will be trained by the best-in-the-industry on state-of-the-art technology to further cultivate the modern film and digital media workforce we are building in New Mexico.”

“With an iconic location and a Native award-winning filmmaker at the helm, the New Mexico Media Academy is poised to lead and empower students for the next generation of jobs and opportunities in the film, television, and digital media industry,” Amber Dodson, director of the New Mexico Film Office said.

The film industry now supports around 8,000 jobs across the state and the median wage of a film worker in New Mexico is about $32 an hour.

“We’ve always had a vision that the Rail Yards would be the active heart of Albuquerque once again, and now that vision is becoming a reality,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “This is the result of years of intentional re-investment. We look forward to having the New Mexico Media Academy be an active part of our community as coming generations of film professionals get trained right here at home for local careers.”


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