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Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2016: Top 10 Big Cities

Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2016: Top 10 Big Cities

Winter 2016

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.”

Andrew Ahn's Sundance-premiering Spa Night takes the Korean spas of Los Angeles as its setting. Photograph by Ki Jin Kim

Andrew Ahn’s Sundance-premiering Spa Night takes the Korean spas of Los Angeles as its setting. Photograph by Ki Jin Kim

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.”

Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin in the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar!, set in L.A. during Hollywood's Golden Age

Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin in the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, set in L.A. during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Courtesy of Universal Pictures

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.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    Did Ant Man really employ that many “Georgians” or were many of them Californians who have moved here to work in the movies. I would be curious to know how many were actually Georgians.

    • Alice says:

      Most of the crew was LA-based. And many also moved on to Captain America and likely to Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Ditto Furious 7, which spent $15 million just on hotels for the nonresident workers.

      On another note, X-Men Apocolypse filmed in Quebec, Canada…not Georgia. And Quantico only shot the pilot in Atlanta. The series moved to Montreal.

      • Rob says:

        I don’t know where you’re getting your information from but it would be nice if you’d stop trying to sabotage our industry. As an atlanta local I can tell you that there are hundreds of locals working on these films and our union has grown by the hundreds each year that these films shoot here. Every single department has local workers in it, and we depend on these jobs to feed our families. Please stop the negative propaganda, it does nothing to help the locals that you pretend to care about.

        • Alice says:

          I am sorry if you think facts are sabotaging “your” industry. My facts about the Marvel films come from the set. The Furious 7 spending info comes from the MPAA in a press release.

          Sure, some projects have tons of locals. Some have almost 100% locals. And others have very few. It’s not good or bad, it’s just a fact.

      • Michelle says:

        So that is just my point. I object to articles like this that make it look like the movie industry employed 3500 Georgia residents. I am not impressed that millions were spent on major hotel corporations. That does not put meals on Georgia resident’s tables or pay their bills. The industry needs to be employing residents. We have a lot of talented Georgia residents who belong to the local union who are being passed over for LA crews that the production brings in. They need to hire Georgian’s first then bring out of state workers in to cover the gap.

  2. Tom Lenard says:

    I filmed this about 50 miles south of Albuquerque back in June of 1980. Crew based itself in Albuquerque. Hired a makeup person locally…His first name was Chip.. Casted Uncle Same in Georgia..rented film gear and Uncle Sam wardrobe in Atlanta and flew from there to Albuquerque. (Got caught in a major sand storm out in the desert..got no warning about such from NM Film Commission) Guess I was ahead of the curve eh…

    (Remember, at one time, it was truly thought that we were running out of oil..Oil Topping Point they called it)

    (Note: This was a reedit of the original film with a new temp track used to convey the public service message..project was not funded…Temp Track appplied was the incredible music of the incredible composer John Barry’s “Dances With Wolves” Wolf Theme..

    https://vimeo.com/14162036

  3. Chris says:

    Man… Shreveport snubbed again. Louisiana snubbed again. Chicago? Really? Dallas? Hardly. I’d love to see some real love for one of the nation’s biggest states for production where resources, talent, and infrastructure flourish: Louisiana. All that without mentioning the huge indigenous filmmaker incentives from the state, the world’s largest cash prize short film contest. Hundreds of short films shot here a year from all over the country. Low cost of living, downtown currently being revitalized, home of louisiana’s #1 ranked beers, right at the intersection of I-20 (connecting Dallas and Atlanta) with I-49, which will eventually be a straight shot to New Orleans. Take a look. Shreveport deserves to be on this list more than about half the places.

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