Kelly Stewart, film liaison for Los Alamos County, presents Club President Oliver Morris with a 3-D bust of Oppenheimer crafted by LANL VISIBLE team member Jake Green following her March 22 presentation about the local filming of ‘Oppenheimer.’ Photo by Linda Hull
Kelly Stewart, the films liaison for Los Alamos County, updated members of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos on the recent filming of “Oppenheimer” during the Club’s Mar 22 meeting. The Hollywood production, based on the book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by authors Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, is expecred to become film director Christopher Nolan’s next blockbuster when it opens nationwide in July 2023.
Among Nolan’s best known films are “Dunkirk”, “The Prestige”, “Batman Begins”, “Tenet”, “Memento”, “Inception”, “Dark Knight”, and “Dark Knight Rises”.
“’Oppenheimer’ is a passion project for Nolan,” Stewart said. “He was very protective of the film’s content” while filming here. “He kept everyone to a tight schedule, which changed daily.”
Stewart thanked the County, local business people, and the public for being so accommodating when streets were blocked, parking lots were temporarily closed, and traffic delayed. She also praised Nolan’s staff, who left each site “better than they found it,” even picking up trash from surroundings areas they had not used.
Before Nolan scouted Los Alamos personally, production scouts were sent in advance to visit different local sites that would be appropriate for the film’s setting. With some black screens and other movie magic, the film crew transported Fuller Lodge and the WWII Women’s Army Corps (WAC) dormitory building, located on 17th, back to the 1940s.
Los Alamos was not the only film location for “Oppenheimer”. Stewart named Abiquiu, Lamy, and Belen as each playing an important role in the story.
New Mexico, with its rebate incentives for the film industry, is commonly used for movie locations, Stewart continued. Film location representatives estimate that the production’s “total spend” in Los Alamos is between $400,000 and $450,000, including building and parking lot rentals, lodging, meals at restaurants, and fuel.
Although Los Alamos “has played itself in the feature films “Let Me In”, “Tiger Eyes” and documentaries like “Mysteries at the Museum”,, a Travel Channel series,” Stewart added that Los Alamos has also been the setting for upstate New York, northern California, Arizona, Wyoming, and even Mongolia. For this reason, productions often strike “Filmed in Los Alamos, New Mexico” from the credits. “Only the Brave”, “The Lone Ranger”, “Brothers”, “The Missing” and the TV series “Longmire” and “The Brave” are only a few of many productions in which Los Alamos has been a backdrop.
Los Alamos, however, takes center stage in “Oppenheimer” and in the film’s promotion that may begin airing as soon as December 2022. Stewart will continue to reach out to NBC Universal and even agents for the principal actors—Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, as well as Jack Quaid and Josh Peck—to solicit testimonials, posters, and other promotional items to include in public relations and marketing for an official Los Alamos premier of the film in summer 2023, as well as ScienceFest, the County’s annual signature event that, in 2023 is being coined as “OppieFest” and will be dedicated to Oppenheimer, the man, the movie, and the legacy.
Kelly Stewart, who manages the County’s tourism, branding, film, and economic development marketing efforts, is the staff liaison to the Los Alamos Lodgers’ Tax Advisory Board, a director on the New Mexico Tourism Department’s North Central Region Marketing Board, and a member of the New Mexico Hospitality Association, as well as a finalist as the Tourism Professional of the Year.
Before joining the County, Stewart graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Journalism and International Studies, and worked in Washington, D.C., then San Francisco, employed in both public and private sectors, conducting marketing, advertising, public relations, and community involvement campaigns.
To contact Stewart, please go to firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.losalamosnm.us/government/departments/economic_development/film_los_alamos
A brochure about movies made in Los Alamos is available at https://visitlosalamos.org/?s=movies
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966. Rotary areas of focus include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00, in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course. A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, 505-662-7950. Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service