What was last year’s TV Bachelor, the Brit hunk Matt Grant, doing at a meet-and-greet in Santa Fe last week? His latest proposal was on behalf of the state of New Mexico. Handsome Matt was helping to lure Hollywood producers hoping to create flicks without having to declare Chapter 11.
Alas, while 6-foot-5-inch Matt was not with Shayne Lamas, his chosen one at the series’ finale (another reality show romance bites the dust), he was obviously smitten with his current lady, a powerhouse in charge of the PR push for the Land of Enchantment. No matter, the room teemed with local VIPs and location scouts seeking alternatives to pricey, predictable L.A. locations. Frankly, it was difficult not falling for New Mexico, with one part the stunning light of Santa Fe and environs, and equal part attractive state tax incentives.
The rationale for this margarita-fueled gathering was to promote the upcoming “Summer of Love” art and film festival from May to September in Taos. Central to the event this year is the 40th anniversary of “Easy Rider.” Dennis Hopper, co-star and creator of the classic, has a home in Taos and will exhibit his artwork.
Of course, the hardened professionals among us recognize the hard sell, even when it comes with charming British eye candy. But the singular blend of breathtaking sunlight and incomparable mountain vistas worked its magic on this skeptic. Anyplace that Georgia O’Keefe called home should be good enough for a cinematographer to fall in love with.
Santa Fe is a lot closer (not to mention cheaper) than Vancouver or Toronto. Yes, movies have already been made in this state recently, including the wonderful indie “Off the Map” and the ridiculous “Wild Hogs.” So why not more?
Financially speaking, it seems a no-brainer to celebrate filmmaking that won’t put a studio into foreclosure.
The PR flacks know that the state has shoot-ready towns reflective of any era, from stuck-in-the-’50s Hatch (famous for its chile peppers), to podunk Truth-or-Consequences, named after the game show. This barely-there town, with a Geronimo Museum and Happy Belly Deli, also offers geothermal mineral springs that claim to help clear up nearly any physical malady.
And Ojo Caliente, up north near Taos, is a postcard-ready hideaway with more mineral springs containing everything from arsenic to zinc, and a lithium spring, which claims anti-depressant properties — perfect for stressed-out bottom-liners working the Hollywood books.
But back to Santa Fe, with its lung-friendly air (a nice change from the fumes of the 405) a new history museum, quaint and luxurious hotels and authentic Native American artists. Not to mention an off-the-beaten-path Bishop’s Lodge Resort and Spa that has housed the likes of the James Taylors.
Tall and enchanting Matt Grant was glad-handing and beaming, but somehow even his golden-boy glow had nothing over the landscape a few feet away.