The Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2018: Small Cities and Towns

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3. Santa Fe, New Mexico

To say there’s a wealth of history in Santa Fe is an understatement, considering it’s the oldest state capital city in the U.S., dating back to 1610. Sharp-eyed tourists strolling down San Francisco Street will find a plaque commemorating the site of a long-gone Santa Fe jail that held legendary outlaw Billy the Kid throughout the winter of 1880. Two projects about New Mexico’s most notorious resident shot in Santa Fe in 2017: a TV pilot called At the End of the Santa Fe Trail and a film called The Kid, with Ethan Hawke as the Kid’s nemesis Pat Garrett. Both projects publicized their intentions to hire local New Mexicans during their shoots.

“Productions coming in from elsewhere now use 90-95 percent or more local crew and, increasingly, talent” says Eric Witt, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Film Office. “State and local government have put lots of resources into supporting the industry overall, training our crew and above the line talent so locals have the opportunity to make a good living in the business, and productions can source as much local cast and crew as possible.” New Mexico offers a 25-30 percent refundable tax credit with no minimum spend and a $50 million rolling cap, as well as lease-free location use of certain government lands/facilities. No wonder Santa Fe is seeing, as Witt says, an “explosion” of film-related activity.

Michelle Dockery (R) in Godless which filmed in Santa Fe last year. Photograph by Ursula Coyote, courtesy of Netflix.

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  1. John lazear, soc

    January 18, 2019 at 3:58 am

    Really….. hollywood and New York are not on this list?
    1 hollywood
    2 New York
    3 London
    Let’s be real about where movies are mostly shot

    • Max Weinstein

      January 18, 2019 at 11:01 am

      Hi John,

      Los Angeles and New York are featured in part one of this article, focusing on Big Cities:

      MM Staff

  2. Adrian G

    January 17, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    So, as much as I appreciate this list, the name of your zine is Moviemaker, not North American Moviemaker. In a field that is peripatetic by its nature, it might be nice to have a list of some of the best cities in the world, not just those in North America, where one can thrive as a filmmaker. Please think about it.

  3. smoga

    February 27, 2018 at 7:59 am


  4. Eve

    January 17, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    I choose to live & work in Hawai’i, which does present some challenges…😎🌺However, when I relocated here from L.A. a few years ago, the general eyebrow raised response was that it was a bit nuts…so i find it really reassuring that so many cities/geographic lications outside of ‘Hollywood’ are now being touted as good lifestyle alternatives for creatives such as myself – b/c it really IS a way of life, and an all-encompassing choice, when you choose this kind of career…

  5. Frank Casanova

    January 17, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Ridiculous! Sacramento is better than half of those on the list.

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