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Waco Mini Series uses New Mexico As A Stand In For Waco

Branch Davidian Compound as shown in the trailer for the Waco Series

The Waco mini-series has begun airing on the Paramount Network. The 6-part series follows the Branch Davidians through the Waco siege, but Wacoans never saw a single film crew because the series was filmed in New Mexico. Will Burney reports on why the series wasn’t filmed in the city it was named for. 

The trailer shows wide open landscapes near where the Branch Davidian compound sits, featuring a bespectacled Taylor Kitsch as the Branch Davidian Leader David Koresh. However, those dusty wide-open spaces aren’t Texas. The series was filmed in New Mexico which may seem unusual since Waco has seen its share of film crews with the hit series Fixer Upper

There are a host of films and TV shows that have filmed all across the state over many years but New Mexico and other states are regularly becoming stand ins for Texas.

Take the History Channel series on Texas History “Texas Rising” which was filmed in Arizona.

In recent years states have begun an arms race of film incentive programs with Georgia, Louisiana and yep, New Mexico all rising to the top. Texas’ program rebates up to 20% of money spent in the state if the production hires at least 70% of its crew in Texas. However, the program has had a funding problem over the years. The most recent blow came during last year’s session. Between the bathroom bill and a bill to defund the program some productions balked at filming in the state.

Representative Matt Rinaldi of Irving Texas even took to the house floor last session to attempt to remove the funding entirely.

“You have to take into account other uses for the money as well. I think the money could be better used giving them to Texas Teachers that’ll also have an economic impact and putting them elsewhere in the budget.” said Rinaldi. According to Rinaldi the effects of the program are negligible on the economy while other reps like Matt Shaheen have accused the program of being a “Hollywood Handout”

Mindy Raymond of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance however says that there was $400 Million dollars in production loss last year after the funding in the program ran out. They estimated with the Economic Development Committee in the Governor’s office that for every $1 spent generates roughly $5 into the economy.

“It’s a substantial amount of money and a return on investment for if you’re looking at dollars and cents for what we invest in.” Raymond said.

But as they say in show business the show must go on and some productions have opted to stay. Queen of the South, the Long Road Home, and the Leftovers along with others are all still filming in the state but without more incentives New Mexico will continue to be a stand in for The Lone Star State.