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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


8. Albuquerque, New Mexico

310 days of sunshine. A versatile urban and suburban landscape, perfect for location-multitasking. Numerous equipment houses, such as Albuquerque Lighting and Grip, Clairmont Camera, and Panavision. Production facilities like ABQ Studios, the largest studios in the United States, featuring a 28’ x 73’ x 40’ green screen cyclorama stage. Albuquerque is well-equipped for film and television productions of all sizes.

DP David Myrick on the Albuquerque set of Kaley Cuoco-starrer Burning Bodhi. Photograph by Kat Hess

DP David Myrick on the Albuquerque set of Kaley Cuoco-starrer Burning Bodhi. Photograph by Kat Hess

As per the New Mexico state incentives, productions that qualify in Albuquerque receive 25 to 30 percent credit on all New Mexico goods and services, with no minimum spend. New Mexico also offers a film crew advancement program, or FCAP, providing crew members opportunities to—you guessed it—advance to the next level in their departments. The state reimburses productions using FCAP a whole 50 percent of the crew member’s salary, in addition to the 25 percent to 30 percent incentives.

The years 2011 to 2014 have seen a 69-percent increase in film-permitted days—perhaps due to the ease of the process. Albuquerque features a one-stop system where representatives from various city departments come together to discuss and sign off on the permits.

No wonder Albuquerque has seen a huge growth in production—even after Breaking Bad, which effectively put the city on the cultural map over the past six years. 2014 saw the production of Better Call Saul (the prequel for Breaking Bad), Blood Father with Mel Gibson, and Sicario with Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro, along with other projects. It’s also the location for cult web series Enter the Dojo from writer, director and lead actor Matt Page. Enter the Dojo centers on Office-like exploits in an Albuquerque martial-arts dojo run by Master Ken (Page), who pronounces all other martial arts to be bullshit compared to his Ameri-do-te. The show has now finished its second season and has a booming web presence.

Enter the Dojo. Courtesy of

Enter the Dojo. Courtesy of Matt Page

Page hails from Maine originally, but, after a detour in Los Angeles, attended Santa Fe University’s film program, and found a new home in Albuquerque. “When I graduated, shows like Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight were in production. The Albuquerque Studios had been built; the film incentive program was picking up steam,” he explained. “I got a couple lines in a feature, got into SAG and started a small production company. I’ve been working in some realm of the entertainment business ever since I graduated in 2005, and consider myself very lucky. I love it here.”

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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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