4. Los Angeles, California
Speaking of sunshine, the reasons to move to L.A. can seem obvious: There were more than 9,000 projects shot there in 2015, which generated over $15 billion in wages alone. Because schools like USC, UCLA and AFI have taught some of the brightest film students ever. Because there are hundreds of specialized rental houses, production and post facilities and over five million square feet of soundstage and studio space. How’s that for infrastructure?
You’ll meet hundreds of cinephiles and inspiring creators, whether at a guild open house, one of L.A.’s constellation of art house theaters, or the newly opened downtown Broad Museum. Indeed, movies are just one part of the modern L.A. arts boom. “The industry seems to touch almost every aspect of the city in some way,” says producer and actress Teah Strandjord. “Places like the Upright Citizens Brigade, the Margaret Herrick Library and the Walt Disney Concert Hall are where artists are performing at their finest, where information and ideas are exchanged, and where a filmmaker can take meaningful part in the discourse of all facets of art.”
At the same time, “it truly is a company town,” says actor, screenwriter and director Todd Berger (The Scenesters, It’s a Disaster). “So many people you meet in everyday life have jobs in some capacity of the movie industry. Because of that, no one is impressed with me. Who isn’t a writer-director in L.A.? That motivates me to work harder to create something different and interesting. In a lot of cities, if someone finds out you’re making an independent film, they’ll assume it’s going to be good. In L.A., people just assume it’s going to be bad. I’m forced to have to stand out, and I like that challenge.”
Actor, comedian, producer and director Jeff Grace has lived in L.A. for 10 years and just completed post-production on his first feature film, Folk Hero and Funny Guy. He likes a lot about the city: “We’re spoiled beyond belief, with an abundance of talented actors and crew who will work for below a sensible wage if they like your project. You feel like much less of a poor bohemian deadbeat living in L.A. as an artist than I imagine you would living in banking and tech hubs like New York or San Francisco.”
In L.A. a production can earn up to 25 percent, transferable in the case of indies, on a minimum-$1 million budget. And California’s recently expanded tax credit budget (which went up from $100 million to $330 million in 2014) is drawing many productions back to the Golden State.
And if all else fails, there’s always work in Hollywood’s Big Red Son—you know, the porn industry—which always needs major below-the-line talent, too.