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

10. Orlando, Florida

Beyond the city’s bustling commercial and sports production, feature moviemaking is gradually carving out a foothold in Orlando. For one, production companies are finding ways to take advantage of the city’s well-equipped film schools by bringing work directly to campuses.

On the Orlando set of a 2015 commercial for International Delight

On the Orlando set of a 2015 commercial for International Delight. Courtesy of the Orlando Film Commission

“The projects involved get a huge cut in their production value, and access to the space, gear and lower-line-level crewmembers in students,” says T.J. Doctor, a local producer and head of production at Full Sail University. Makes sense, because besides Full Sail, students learn at the University of Central Florida (with a production complex boasting comprehensive motion-capture facilities), Orlando Tech and the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School.

And who could forget the Mouse? “The slew of theme parks [attract] not only technicians but also creatives and actors, so there’s actually a really artistic community here” says Doctor. The talent pool in Orlando, he says, come for the gigs at Disney World, Universal and Epcot, but stay for the creative camaraderie. With 12 film festivals, tax incentives of up to 30 percent (films get bonuses for being “family-friendly,” shooting in off-season, and more) and year-round sunshine, Orlando is a magical place.

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On the Cusp

Asheville, North Carolina

While North Carolina’s incentive programs have taken a hit in recent years, Asheville has three things every moviemaker dreams of: one, a supportive film community with experienced crew; two, a cosmopolitan and eclectic downtown with dozens of art galleries, Art Deco architecture and world-class culinary offerings; and three, awe-inspiring views surrounding those majestic Blue Ridge Mountains.

Jackson, Mississippi

“The Jackson film culture is on a dramatic upward swing,” says Ward Emling, director of the Mississippi Film Office. “More than 15 films were shot in the area in the last 24 months, and both reality show and commercial production are up.” We like the town’s healthy rebate program, the 17-year-old Crossroads Film Festival and the Mississippi Museum of Art’s screening series. MM

This article appears in MovieMaker’s Winter 2016 issue. Illustrations by Jon Boam. Featured image of New Orleans-shot NCIS: New Orleans, courtesy of Skip Bolen and CBS Broadcasting

This year’s Big Cities list can be read here. Read last year’s lists here: Big Cities, Small Cities and Towns. Is there a place you think should be in the running for 2017? Tell us where and why in the comments.

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