Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2014, Top Towns: #1. Asheville, NC
by Mark Sells

It’s MovieMaker’s 2014 edition of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker! We’re counting down through our Top 10 Big Cities, Top 5 Small Cities, and Top 5 Towns—releasing one location a day for the entire month of January. The full list, published in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2014 issue, is on newsstands now.

Top cities

Unlike previous years where locations were pitted against each other in a single pool, this year we separated the list into three distinct categories: Big Cities (pop. 500,000 and up), Small Cities (pop. 100,000 to 500,000), and Towns (pop. 100,000 and under). After months of research, interviews, and mathematical formulas, we boiled the rankings down to the essential elements. All locations were rated according to six criteria: Film Production in 2013 (shooting days, number of productions, dollars generated), Film Community and Culture (film schools, festivals, independent theaters, film organizations), Access to Equipment and Facilities, Tax Incentives, Cost of Living, and a General category that included lifestyle, weather, and transportation. Did your place of choice make the list? If not, maybe you should choose again if you’re serious about rooting yourself in a location that’s conducive to your career and life goals – or drop us a comment proposing a place we overlooked this year!

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Top Towns

#1. Asheville, NC

Voted the most beautiful place in the United States by Good Morning, America, Asheville sets the gold standard for best small town moviemaking. From the Pisgah National Forest to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Art Deco downtown to the Biltmore Estate, it has a vibrant history with productions like Last of the Mohicans, The Green Mile, The Hunt for Red October, The Hunger Games—and who could ever forget the Dirty Dancing lift scene from Lake Lure?

Copy of Asheville

With nearly a dozen local film festivals (including the Chuck Norris-inspired ActionFest), community support from the Asheville Cinema Society, the Asheville Film Society, Asheville Area Arts Council, Screen Artists Co-op, and Western North Carolina Film Commission, the town is chock full of pre- and post- production facilities and some of the friendliest crew around. “The Hunger Games would not have been possible without all of the support from the local community and WNC Film Commission,” said director Gary Ross.

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It’s known by many names: the Paris of the South, the San Francisco of the East, or simply Beer City USA. You might also make the trek to Asheville for another reason: the generous North Carolina tax credit (25 percent for projects of $250,000 or more with a per project cap of $20 million). As an added bonus, state-owned property can be used fee-free.

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“We’re tremendously proud of Asheville,” said Amanda Baranski, Director of the Western North Carolina Film Commission, “The region has a heritage of hard work and innovation. There’s a strong work ethic and sense of collaboration that helps get the job done.” MM

For more information about filming in Asheville visit the Western North Carolina Film Commission.

This wraps up our list of Best Places to Live and Work as Moviemaker in 2014!

BIG CITIES

10) San Francisco

9) Memphis

8) Portland

7) Philadelphia 

6) Boston 

5) Seattle

4) Los Angeles

3) Austin

2) New York 

1) Chicago

SMALL CITIES

5) Savannah, GA

4) Providence, RI

3) Shreveport, LA

2) Wilmington, NC

1) New Orleans, LA

TOWNS

5) Marfa, TX

4) Bozeman, MT

3) Boulder, CO

2) Ashland, OR

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5 comments on “Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2014, Top Towns: #1. Asheville, NC
by Mark Sells

  1. I guess whoever wrote this is behind about 7 years. Asheville might be pretty and all but production here is, and has been pretty much at a standstill since GA started offering much better incentives. I would love to know where all the post facilities are, as mine is at home along with everyone else.

    • MovieMaker Magazine on said:

      Hi. We feel like the North Carolina and Georgia tax incentives are quite competitive. Georgia offers a 20% incentive across the board, with the option of getting 10% more, while North Carolina a offers 25% tax incentive, in addition to free use of state property. If you are interested in checking out production facilities in Asheville, we recommend visiting the Western North Carolina Resource Directory.

  2. I Love Asheville But... on said:

    I love Asheville…but is this really true, “the town is chock full of pre- and post- production facilities”?

    • MovieMaker Magazine on said:

      Hi. Thank you for your comment. According to the Western North Carolina Film Commission there are quite a few production companies and facilities located in the greater Asheville metro area. For a full list of services check out the Western North Carolina Resource Directory (http://wnc.reel-scout.com/crew_login.aspx)

  3. Asheville based filmmaker here. I agree.

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