Hilary Swank The Resident

Hilary Swank in Albuquerque

While out in New Mexico in early June, I heard about an unlikely film being shot there: The Resident, Finnish director Antti Jokinens first feature. Jokinen wrote the  original screenplay — a story about European Jews who survive the Holocaust and move to Brooklyn. They settle near the Brooklyn Bridge, but are haunted by the fear that they could be rounded up again. Their solution is to build an elaborate system of passageways and tunnels where they can hide if theres another attempt to persecute them. Its based on a true story. The buildings and the passageways in Brooklyn still exist.

The Resident is a project of the reconstituted Hammer Studios, which had planned to build the Brooklyn apartments on a London soundstage. But star Hilary Swank, playing a doctor who is stalked from the passageways that she then discovers, had three dogs that she would not subject to the UK canine quarantine, so London was out.

Enter Albuquerque, which has Albuquerque Studios and the states incentive program that refunds filmmakers 25 percent of production costs. A Brooklyn apartment,  as well as the passageways, was constructed in a hulk of a building on the high mesa, about five miles south of the Albuquerque Sunport. Inside theres a Brooklyn monochrome interior, with views of the East River, day or night, depending on which huge photographs are being used as backdrops. The passageways are made of what looks like rotting wood.  Even the housing code violations look real. Its beyond anything that Ive seen in LA, Toronto or Vancouver, all in the desert where nothing stood five years ago.

How do you find a cheap apartment in Brooklyn? You build it in Albuquerque. Then you film a cheaper, equally “authentic” post-Holocaust story . (Some second-unit shooting will be done in Brooklyn, in the actual buildings.)

Can New Mexico keep it going, now that every state has incentives? Jack Blacks The Year One, which created/simulated pre-history and Rome there last year, is in theaters, and an abandoned prison, modernized for a film that was shot there, is at the states disposal. Of course, theres also the landscape for the obvious movies, like No Country for Old Men, which used Las Vegas, NMs Plaza Hotel and period-true Victorian streets, as well as actual west Texas, for locations.

Write us your thoughts about this post. Play nice.