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J.J. Abrams series planned to use Albuquerque shelter for a filming location

Holger Langmaier

As New Mexico’s film and television industry continues its rapid growth, various sites around the state show up as backdrops. One surprising location – Albuquerque’s Westside Emergency Housing Center – was teed up to be the setting for a show on HBO Max.

The show is called “Duster,” and it’s a crime drama set in the 1970s Southwest. J.J. Abrams is the executive producer.

Part of it was due to be filmed at the Westside Center, which houses between 450 and 700 people experiencing homelessness each night.

Warner Brothers and NM Talent INC. were contracted to use the location for 8 days back in May, but just before filming began, those plans were disrupted by by last year’s writers’ strike.

Maria Wolfe, the Homeless Innovations Officer in the Albuquerque Department of Health, Housing and Homelessness, said the production company asked to come back after the strike, but was turned down.

“We had to say that during winter months that does not work because we just have too many people there,” she said.

But she said the city hopes to accommodate the show again in the future.

Wolfe said that several people staying at the shelter were scheduled to join the production as extras. The production company was not available for comment.

The production company paid a $10,000 access and license fee to the city and brought 200 cast and crew members to the shelter to film.

The Albuquerque Film Office declined to talk about the shoot.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that filming never took place at the shelter. A month after officials from the Albuquerque Film Office were contacted by KUNM and declined to comment for this story, they then contacted the Department of Health, Housing and Homelessness after this story’s publication and told officials in that department that production was halted before any filming actually took place. 

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Megan Myscofski is a reporter with KUNM's Poverty and Public Health Project.
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