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

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

Winter 2018

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose where to find your film family.

They’re the PAs you’ll be spending those long, languid afternoons within cramped production offices, the ADs who’ll offer you an extra jacket on the wintery location, and the grips who’ll lend an ear after a grueling day on set. Your choice of a town or city in which to settle down in for a couple of years or a lifetime is a significant life decision, there’s just no getting around it. The good news is that our annual Best Places guide is a pretty decent starting point for moviemakers who are looking to narrow their choices as they research their next moviemaking and living destination.

Whether you’re a contented Southerner who’d like to get out of dodge but continue living and working below the Mason-Dixon line, or you’ve got your hot new passport in hand and are weighing the pleasures of life in Vancouver vs. Montreal, you’ll find reams of valuable, current intel within this feature article with which to assist you in making an informed, practical decision about your next locale. This intel includes candid commentary from local residents about the cities they love, and in some cases, would love to see improved. Months of research and survey feedback, interviews with film commissions and non-profits, dozens of phone calls with working indie and studio moviemakers have all contributed to our assessment and ranking of the best places in North America to live and make movies in 2018.

One caveat: quality of life is a tricky thing to quantify, let alone rank. In our ongoing effort to get it down to a science, though, here are some basic ingredients that go into our secret scoring sauce: a city’s film activity in the past 12 months (number of productions, shoot durations, economic activity generated), film infrastructure in place (number of film schools and VFX houses, film commissions and other non-profits, film festivals, screening venues, prominent locals), and broader criteria such as population size, ease of transportation, local and state tax credits (a big one, of course), and architectural and geographical distinctiveness—the latter of which came up more than you might think. (One contributor noted that his town was the kind of place to shoot a film noir.)  

Shall we begin?

(Scroll through part two of our full list for the top 5 small cities and towns in the U.S. Check out part one, for the top 15 big cities in North America, here.)

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

  2. Eve says:

    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…

  3. Adrian G says:

    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.

  4. John lazear, soc says:

    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 says:

      Hi John,

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

      MM Staff

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