Welcome to The City Different in The Land of Enchantment – Santa Fe, New Mexico. The rich history, culture, art scene, and beauty of Santa Fe makes it a desirable place to shoot a movie. That’s why productions like Twins, True Grit, City Slickers, Natural Born Killers, Cliffs of Freedom, Terminator Salvation, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Wild Hogs, The Lone Ranger, North Country, Corporate Animals, Crazy Heart, Rent and more have made Santa Fe or the surrounding area a filming location. Grab some popcorn and let’s spend a few minutes exploring a few movies filmed in Santa Fe:
Twins was a 1988 American buddy comedy movie about unlikely twins (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito) who were separated at birth. The core of the film is the contrast between the streetwise Vincent (DeVito) and the intelligent but naive Julius (Schwarzenegger). Despite mixed reviews, the film was a huge success in 1988, grossing $216 million worldwide. Several scenes in Twins take place in or around Santa Fe, New Mexico. And the beautiful bridge that Vincent drives along is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge on the outskirts of Santa Fe, near Taos, New Mexico. Here’s a clip from Twins at a highly recognizable Santa Fe location:
Trails End (1949)
As we leave 1988 behind, let’s time travel to 1949 where you can see some very old clips of Santa Fe, New Mexico in the movie Trail’s End. Trails End is a 1949 American western film that was directed by Lambert Hillyer and starred Johnny Mack Brown, Max Terhune and Kay Morley. There is a ton of footage from Santa Fe in the 1940s. A lot of it you can see in this nearly 12-minute clip:
Cliffs of Freedom (2019)
Cliffs of Freedom is a romantic journey between a Turkish officer and a Greek village woman. It takes place in 1821 during the Greek War for Independence that was fought against the Ottoman Empire. The movie, formerly known as The Sword and the Scarf, employed more than 200 New Mexico workers and 800 extras. Santa Fe was one of the prominent locations for shooting, prompting a statement from the mayor of Santa Fe:
“We’re very pleased to host Cliffs of Freedom in Santa Fe, not only for the historic nature of the story but also because it proves the tremendous variety of creative resources for staging a production here,” said Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales. “If we can double for early 19th century Greece, we can do just about anything.”
Here’s the trailer for the movie:
Crazy Heart (2009)
The 2009 movie Crazy Heart was very memorable for Jeff Bridges who won a Best Actor Academy Award Oscar for his portrayal of “Bad Blake,” a down-on-his-luck former country-music legend whose best days seem behind him until he meets Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a reporter who wants to do an article on. The movie did a lot of filming in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. For Santa Fe, filming locations included The Santa Fe Opera, Evangelo’s Cocktail Lounge, and Old St. Vincent Hospital among other places. Crazy Heart is based on a novel with the same name.
One of the songs in Crazy Heart is called, “The Weary Kind.” Written by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett for the movie, “The Weary Kind” won an Academy Award for “Best Original Song.”
Here is a video of Bingham playing and singing “The Weary Kind” at the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe in 2010.
Corporate Animals (2019)
Filmed mostly in Santa Fe and Abiquiu New Mexico, during the summer of 2018, Corporate Animals is an independent dark comedy starring Demi Moore, Jessica Williams, and Ed Helms. In the movie, Moore plays the ego-driven CEO of Incredible Edible Cutlery, a firm that sells edible cutlery. During a corporate retreat to New Mexico, for team building, the group gets trapped underground taking “team building” in a whole new direction. The movie premiered at the 2019 Sundance Festival before its worldwide release. Unfortunately, the movie received mostly negative reviews.
“I’m proud to welcome another great independent feature to New Mexico,” said New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis about Corporate Animals. “New Mexico’s deep base of talent, infrastructure and our strong incentives continue to help us attract independent films to New Mexico.”
Here’s the trailer to “Corporate Animals.”
The Allure of New Mexico and Santa Fe
The allure of New Mexico is far-reaching from the rich culture, the great expansive landscape, the history, the art, the food, the weather, and for making movies. Film-making in New Mexico has been going on for well over a hundred years and when you live in New Mexico, it’s easy to see why there is such a draw. Located in Santa Fe, the New Mexico State Film Office handles hundreds of movie, television, and corporate filming requests every year. Every time New Mexico is selected as a filming location it brings a boost to the overall state economy. Thousands of local residents are hired as actors, extras, and crew for movies that film in New Mexico. And tourists love to visit filming locations of their favorite movies while spending money at local hotels, restaurants, and stores.
Some years the New Mexico State Film Office will release a “Sizzle Reel” that promotes filming in New Mexico by showing clips from movies and TV shows that filmed in the state. How many locations do you recognize in these two Sizzle Reels?
Bonanza Creek Ranch
Santa Fe is blessed with gorgeous locations for any set, and one such alluring location with over 12,000 acres of mountains, mesas, ponds, and prairie is Bonanza Creek Ranch. The Santa Fe ranch has been a backdrop to movies such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Easy Rider, Cowboys vs. Aliens, Appaloosa, 3:10 to Yuma, and dozens more.