Money for movies pays off, Río Grande protection and the once-modern microfilm technology


As part of our weekly series, The Taos News dug into the newspaper's archives to uncover the top stories of the week from 10, 25 and 50 years ago.

-- 10 YEARS AGO -- 'Lights, camera, profit?', Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2007, By David Miles

It took five years for public investments in New Mexico's film industry to finally pay back citizens of the state.

From 2002 to 2007, the tax incentive for film productions helped attract movie projects such as "3:10 to Yuma," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and "No Country for Old Men." In those years, the state directly financed about 20 projects while the tax incentive helped bring in about 80 projects overall.

"Employee of the Month," starring "blond starlet Jessica Simpson," was the first film to pay back New Mexico for its interest-free loan of $13 million. While critics dismissed the film outright (for good reason; the Rotten Tomatoes film review score stands at a whopping 20 percent), the production netted enough profits for Lions Gate Entertainment to cut the state a $500,000 check.

The New Mexico Film Office touted the state's film industry and saw its impact "skyrocket" after the incentives were put in place. The impact, the office's representatives said, jumped from $8.8 million to $475.5 million in less than five years.

Since the initial payout from Simpson's cinematic flop, productions have continued to bring more money into the Land of Enchantment.

Perhaps no project stands out more than the five-season television series "Breaking Bad," with its modern, Western-esque take on a fictional Albuquerque man and his rise to power fueled by meth.

Current New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez touted in August the film and television industry generated $505 million for the state's economy in the past year alone. Martinez was less friendly toward the tax incentives earlier in her administration.

-- 25 YEARS AGO -- 'River tract becomes 'scenic'', Sept. 24, 1992, Staff report

Long before the Río Grande was the centerpiece of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, designated by former President Barack Obama in 2013, the river was at the heart of other efforts to protect the wild, undimmed waters of the country.

The Río Grande - from just north of Colorado to the Taos Junction Bridge near Pilar - was one of the original waterways included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Congress made that designation in 1968 as more and more people realized the ecological damage of thousands of federal river-damming projects.

On Sept. 22, 1992, the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a piece of legislation that would add another 12 miles of the Río Grande - from the Taos Junction Bridge to the community of Rinconada - to the wild and scenic system.

However, as with the jockeying that led to the creation of the national monument, the battle for the designation didn't end there.

Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman again introduced legislation (along with then-U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, who recently died) to protect the 12-mile stretch of the Río Grande in March 1993 and it again won approval from the resource committee. That bill received full Senate support a month later.

But that didn't clinch the federal protections.

A carbon copy of the wild and scenic legislation was introduced by then-U.S. Rep. Bill Richardson in February 1994, the same year protections against damming for that stretch of the Río Grande was finally approved by both houses of Congress and signed into law.

-- 50 YEARS AGO -- 'Microfilming of records in courthouse scheduled', Sept. 28, 1967, Staff report

Taos may not be at the forefront of technological innovations, but we certainly make an effort to be modern.

The Taos News reported in 1967 that the Taos County Clerk's Office brought in a team of people to help the office transition to using microfilm for the nearly 400 documents it was processing every month.

As is often the case with technology, microfilm was promised to be a way to save time. According to the news article, the clerk's office was meant to save at least a quarter of its time using the microfilm service, which was involved, to say the least. The clerk's office employees had to "microfilm every week" and send the film to Roswell by Thursday in order for the finished film to make it back by the following Monday.

But what technology was the office replacing? "In the past, copies were made through the use of a large Xerox machine which necessitated using chemicals."

A representative from Kodak and the Pecos Valley Microfilm and Secretarial Service in Roswell were on hand to help the office make the transition.

So what is microfilm, you ask? Documents were scaled down and printed, generally, on reels of a film that could be read using a microfilm reader that looks like a microscope with a black-and-white monitor.

These days, it's very difficult to even find a microfilm reader. At least we have the internet.