Tribe opens first Native film studio in Hollywood history

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
03/27/2020 03:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The first movie studio owned by a Native American tribe in the history of Hollywood is set to open its gates in the soft, reddish-brown foothills of New Mexico’s majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. CAMEL ROCK STUDIOS
SANTA FE, N.M, (AP) – The first movie studio owned by a Native American tribe in the history of Hollywood is set to open its gates in the foothills of New Mexico’s majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and will be targeting the increasing production of movies, television and mobile entertainment platforms.

The Tesuque Pueblo’s Camel Rock Studios backlot movie ranch will initially include standing sets, panoramic vistas and planned shooting stages.

“It’s a bit of a back-to-the-future facility,” said Timothy J. Brown, president and CEO, Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corp. “Camel Rock was conceived to follow the tradition of the historic Hollywood studios – like Warner Bros. and Paramount – with their off-site film ranches.”

The Warner Ranch, nestled in the San Fernando Valley after WWII, is now the site of a mall and a Costco, and the Paramount Movie Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains is now federal parkland.

Camel Rock Studios is not a typical purpose-built urban sound stage. To meet the growing demand, the new production facility is a confluence of cultures, capturing the magic of film and television production, the mystique of Santa Fe, and the centuries-old Native American culture – delivering an environmentally conscious and restorative environment for production.

Tesuque Pueblo has initiated an approach to film and television production that has major Hollywood studios taking notice by offering community support that provides tribal knowledge of northern New Mexico.

“It’s certainly an important milestone for our pueblo to launch the first studio of its kind. The pueblo has a storied history of movies shot on location at Camel Rock and represents a wonderful opportunity for the Hollywood community to share in the benefits of one of the most amazing places on Earth, featuring a studio nestled in terrain of mythical seminal beauty in the heart of Pueblo country” said Pueblo of Tesuque Governor Robert Mora Sr.

With the support of New Mexico and the Santa Fe Film Office, Tesuque Pueblo has reimagined a former casino into a vibrant production space. The 75,000-square-foot multi-use production facility and film studio features standing sets, along with 100 acres of breathtaking open space on the pueblo. The appeal of the studio is its diverse landscape that mimics locales around the world. Additionally, the pueblo serves as a gateway to northern New Mexico, with access to iconic locations including Ghost Ranch, Taos and El Santuario de Chimayo.

New Mexico has emerged as a rich and expansive resource for worldwide film and television production, and the studio’s diverse locations and production assets are expected to play an invaluable role in meeting the rising demand from Hollywood producers.

The movie ranch soft-opened in 2019 with a major feature film from Universal Pictures starring Tom Hanks: “News of the World,” based on the best-selling novel by Paulette Jiles and directed by Paul Greengrass (The “Bourne” films). The film will arrive in theaters this Christmas. Producer Gregory Goodman said, “We recently wrapped our first major production at Camel Rock Studios and couldn’t have been more pleased with our experience. The studio anticipated and met all of our needs, and their attention to detail made for a seamless production. We certainly intend to bring more films to Camel Rock in the future.”

Native American Chris Eyre, an internationally recognized film and television director and producer whose work has been awarded with a Peabody, Emmy and Sundance Audience Award, is a Camel Rock Studios advisor. “In the past, Native Americans have been misrepresented and marginalized both in front of and behind the camera,” said Eyre. “In 2020 the Tesuque tribe of New Mexico is changing this narrative, and I am honored to be part of this groundbreaking new endeavor.”

Cherokee American actor, film producer and Oscar honoree Wes Studi, critically acclaimed for his work in Academy Award -winning films “ Dances with Wolves ” and “ The Last of the Mohicans,” shared his support for Camel Rock. “Tesuque Tribe’s production facility has already proven itself with the film ‘News of the World.’ They are a great new addition to the film and television world of New Mexico,” he said.

The early success of Camel Rock has positioned the studio for future development; and in the coming years the facility is expected to include a studio backlot, new sound stages, a production facility and wide-ranging production services. “We have an aggressive five-year plan to expand our business and our footprint,” said Brown. “As we grow our studio, we are striving to make this a comprehensive production facility that will support global productions across multiple platforms, including film and television, digital streaming, music, and gaming.”

For additional information, visit camelrockstudios.com.

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