New Mexico Film Office Director Amber Dodson recently announced that “Rez Ball,” an inspirational sports drama from Netflix produced by LeBron James, will be filming in and around Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, Shiprock, Belen, Los Lunas, Estancia, Santa Fe and the Navajo Nation, with the permission and support of local governments and sovereign tribal nations, through May.
Some of the filming in Rio Rancho will take place at Lincoln Middle School, where the gym is being transformed.
“We had to close the main gym at LMS for several days so the production company could make a few changes to align with the story, including painting half of the gym to look like two different locations and putting decals on the gym floors and the walls,” Rio Rancho Public Schools Communications Director Wyndham Kemsley said. “No classes have been or will be interrupted due to the filming, as LMS has a second gym that is being used for P.E. and any other classes or activities that need a gym space.”
The production will employ nearly 3,000 New Mexicans – 180 crew members and 2737 background talent. “Rez Ball” tells the story of the Chuska Warriors, a Native American high school basketball team from Chuska, New Mexico. The team must band together after losing its star player as they fight for the state championship. It is an all-American underdog story of Native kids and coaches told from the inside out.
“We’re thrilled to be home to this film,” Cabinet Secretary of Economic Development Alicia J. Keyes said. “’Rez Ball,’ being filmed and set in New Mexico, will highlight our state’s diverse landscapes and rich culture while helping strengthen our local economy and provide job opportunities for New Mexicans.”
“Rez Ball” is directed by Gallup native Sydney Freeland (“Reservation Dogs,” “Growing Up”) and written by Freeland and Sterlin Harjo (“Reservation Dogs”) with inspiration from Michael Powell’s critically acclaimed nonfiction sports novel “Canyon Dreams.” Maverick Carter will produce with James under their SpringHill Company banner.
“Representation matters, and I am thrilled that so many Native actors, directors and writers are being tapped for this production,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Growing the film industry is a priority of my administration, but it’s imperative that the industry is benefiting every New Mexican.”
No students at Lincoln are involved with the production nor will they be filmed while the production company is using spaces within LMS. The LMS nurse’s office is also being transformed, but that work is occurring outside of school hours, and the office will still be accessible to students throughout this process.
“We are excited to welcome the ‘Rez Ball’ production to Lincoln Middle School. The film industry provides lucrative and exciting career opportunities for our community and our students are excited to experience a ‘sneak peek’ into a real film production and all that entails,” Kemsley said. “Overall, this is an exciting opportunity for our district, and one that we are familiar with as we have hosted numerous other production companies in the past.”