1. Austin, Texas
Austin has topped our list more than once in the past, and its reign continues in 2015. Alive with film, music, and art of all kinds, and boasting a 4.2 percent unemployment rate as of September 2014, it features a continually expanding creative community with no signs of going bust on the horizon.
Independent cinema, as any Slacker fan can tell you, has deep roots in Austin. A constellation of American independent filmmakers famously call Austin home—Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Terrence Malick, Andrew Bujalski, David and Nathan Zellner, John Lee Hancock, Mike Judge, A.J. Edwards, and Yen Tan. Most days, it feels like everybody knows everybody—so grab a margarita and get mixing.
Austin hosts two of our 2014 Coolest Film Festivals—South by Southwest and Austin Film Festival—and plenty more. There’s ATX Television Festival, Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, Polari Film Festival (formerly the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival), Capital City Black Film Festival, and the Austin Polish Film Festival… for starters.
The Austin Film Society, founded in 1985 by Linklater, oversees an annual grant program—though you may find competition stiff, with recent winners like Andrew Bujalski’s Sundance 2015-premiering Results. The society also runs Austin Studios, which features two soundstages. Other studios include Spiderwood Studios along the Colorado River, Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios (with digital and sound services in two different facilities) and a number of post facilities.
Projects big and small have shot in Austin of late, taking advantage of a fairly healthy Texas tax incentive program. These include Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children, TV series From Dusk Till Dawn, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For, the low-budget feature My All American, as well as Results and Linklater’s upcoming That’s What I’m Talkin’ About. Also of note, PBS’s Austin City Limits is now entering its 40th season. Throw in commercials, corporate and web content production, and there’s plenty of opportunity to work and learn.
Bryan Poyser, who co-wrote and directed the 2013 comedy Love & Air Sex and is in pre-production on his next Austin-based feature, moved from Connecticut to Austin 20 years ago and has no plans of leaving. The impetus was simple back then: “Austin seemed like a cool place to be,” Poyser said. “And it is. There’s a great community of filmmakers always ready to help each other out. A lot of my friends have acted in my movies, and I do the same for them.” MM
This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2015 issue, available on newsstands on January 30, 2015, and for digital download from iTunes on January 24, 2015. Illustrations and lettering by Nicole Miles.
Read our 2015 Top Five Towns list here, and our 2015 Top Five Small Cities list here. Read the 2014 edition of our Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker list here.
To subscribe to MovieMaker Magazine, click here.