5. San Francisco, California
One look from the hills out to the gorgeous bay and you can understand why people fall under San Francisco’s spell. The awe factor comes at a price—the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 2014 was a whopping $2,873. However, the city did recently pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018 ($12.25 per hour in May 2015, $13 per hour in July 2016, and one dollar every year until July 2018), so when you’re not shooting, you can get yourself a temp job at an artisanal bakery.
San Francisco-specific tax incentives include a cash rebate of up to $600,000 per film, documentary, TV episode or web series episode. And, in addition to California’s basic 20-percent credit, San Francisco shoots qualify for an extra five percent for shooting outside the 30-mile Los Angeles zone.
In addition, the San Francisco Film Commission supports the city’s First Source Hiring Program, connecting economically challenged workers to entry-level job openings on major productions that shoot in the city.
This year, five films that received support from the San Francisco Film Society’s Filmmaker 360 program will be screened at Sundance: Jennifer Phang’s Advantageous, Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Kris Swanberg’s Unexpected, Bill and Turner Ross’s Western, and Jenni Olson’s The Royal Road.
“Our mission is to have filmmakers have sustainable careers,” Filmmaker 360 director Michele Turnure-Salleo said. “The way we do that is through a combination of financial support through grants and a residency program called Filmhouse. You get a year-long residency fully loaded with free office space, program support, guest speakers, artist talks, and much more.”
This ultra-modern co-working environment has major creative benefits. Advantageous director Phang said, “Through the Filmhouse Residency I was able to meet passionate Bay Area crew members, house our project in offices cost-free for a very long time, and connect with people who helped us with casting and funding. We had a place for crew to meet as frequently as we needed, and to have productive test screenings with the other filmmakers in the space. Being around other filmmakers kept me energized, focused, and helped me develop my work in the context of other people’s lives and concerns, instead of in a vacuum.”
“The Society was also my fiscal sponsor,” The Royal Road’s Olson explained. “So when I applied for grants, I had the 501(c)(3) non-profit status so I could solicit donations from individuals that are tax deductible. That is invaluable. It’s a hub for filmmakers. I’ve lived here 20-some years, and the Film Society has really evolved.” Seems like San Francisco is gaining serious momentum as a moviemaking town.