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Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2015: Top 10 Big Cities

Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2015: Top 10 Big Cities

Winter 2015


9. Portland, Oregon

One of the biggest draws to Portland is the city’s storied lifestyle, which features deep cultural opportunities and endless options for those who love the outdoors. The city is lucky to be the home of several noted independent movie theaters, including the iconic Hollywood Theater (a cinephile’s dream) and the Clinton Street Theater (the oldest continually operating movie theater west of the Mississippi).

And should you doubt that Portland is alive with filmmaking, note that more than 350 film permits were issued by the city in 2014. Laika Studios, the animation giant behind Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls is located within Portland’s metropolitan area. The city also features noted film programs at Portland State University and classes at the Northwest Film Center, the Art Institute of Portland and Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Portland's Hollywood Theatre. Photograph by John Keel

Portland’s Hollywood Theatre. Photograph by John Keel

MovieMaker publisher Tim Rhys, who made Portland his home this year and has opened a PDX office for the magazine in the Northwest Documentary building downtown, says he appreciates the strength and commitment of the independent film community, and has been surprised to learn of the city’s unheralded film history. Oregon film historian Anne Richardson has given lectures tracing the Portland film family tree; her “Mid-Century Oregon Genius” series at the Hollywood brought Oregon native James Ivory to Portland in September 2014, and will honor another native, Homer Groening, in February 2015.

Film critic Shawn Levy, in a recent interview in About Face magazine, answered the question “Why is Portland a great movie town?” He said, “If you draw a line from City Hall to the Hollywood Theatre and make that the radius of a circle, in that circle you have more screens dedicated to independent, alternative, documentary, avant-garde, and experimental cinema than you do Hollywood studio films. There may be more screens dedicated to those things in New York, L.A., San Francisco, and Chicago, but they are spread out all over the place.” As if to underscore Levy, Portland’s incredible video store Movie Madness is also a film museum, which features props from 100 years of classic movies.

Oregon also has a $10 million tax credit program (raised from $6 million in 2013) which offers 20 percent off Oregon-based goods and services, and 10 percent off Oregon-based payroll. And hey, it’s still the most affordable big city on the West Coast.

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  1. SomeGuyInSA says:

    “San Antonio … from its Southern sister Austin.”

    Did any one look at a map before they wrote this?

  2. Pfl says:

    San Franciscos minimum wage is not $15. More like $11.25?

    • Mark Sells says:

      Thanks for pointing that out to us, Pedro! You’re absolutely right. Currently, San Francisco’s minimum wage stands at $11.05 per hour. Back in November 2014, the city approved measures to bring that up to $15, but it will be a gradual increase over the next three years. $12.25 per hour in May 2015. $13 per hour in July 2016. And one dollar every year until July 2018 when it lands at $15. We’ve updated the article to reflect the change.

  3. GT says:

    Regarding Austin resident filmmakers you could also mention Jeff Nichols and David Gordon Green

  4. Rain says:

    dont forget about the first web fest in Texas!

  5. Martin says:

    Chicago? Are you serious? Because of a couple TV shows and a few movies? Please tell me where all the job postings are for film related jobs in Chicago? Because I can’t find them.

  6. Rip says:

    You might want to add “in the USA” to your title. There are cities and filmmakers outside the US after all. There are several Canadian Cities that could knock many of the US cities on this list down several notches.

  7. Nick says:

    I noticed Seattle has been left off the list this year. Have they dropped the ball or did they just miss out?

    Thinking of moving there this year….

    • Mark Sells says:

      Good eye, Nick. Yes, Seattle has routinely been in our Top 10 list over the years. As a matter of fact, it’s been in our Top 5 over the last three. But year to year, lots of things change from tax incentives to film production. Even though other cities may have upped their game and are on target to outperform Seattle in 2015, it’s still a terrific city for moviemaking. Not to mention, they have a pretty good team playing in the Super Bowl.

  8. Dastardly says:

    This article is a joke, the writer knows nothing about the film industry.

  9. Alan G Button says:

    I have a 117 page screenplay “Dance of the Firewalker” that needs serious attention by a producer/director. This fictional mystery takes place in Maine and has many twists and turns surrounded by ancient Native American beliefs. Anyone interested in pointing me in the right direction?

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