Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2014,Top Towns: #5. Marfa, TX

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, will be available on newsstands January 28.

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

#5. Marfa, TX

With a population hovering around 2,000, Marfa is easily the smallest town on our list, but one of the richest in terms of cultural diversity and dramatic landscapes. Named after the surrogate mother in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the town is an artists’ haven amongst cattle ranching, cotton production, and silver mining—with 14 art galleries and a state-of-the-art drive-in movie theater, currently being designed by the architect of the New York Museum of Modern Art. And there are more film festivals (two: CineMarfa and the Marfa Film Festival) here than there are stoplights (one)!

Copy of Marfa

The permanently installed sculpture Prada Marfa is located about 35 miles outside of Marfa.

The town’s prestigious film legacy was instrumental in its ranking this year, as it has played crucial roles in George Stevens’ Giant, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men. Said Robin Lambaria, creator and director of the Marfa Film Festival, “It feels a lot like the wild west out here. You have to have a pioneering spirit and be good at improvisational problem-solving. There’s far fewer permits and red tape than most places, lots of characters—and plenty of parking.” MM

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For more information about filming in Marfa visit the Texas Film Commission.

Check back every day for the rest of January to see which small cities and towns are the best places to live and work as a moviemaker in 2014! Previous rankings:

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

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