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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


4. New York, New York

With all the production in Chicago and Los Angeles, the East Coast’s moviemaking behemoth remains a perennial top contender in our Best Places list. In 2014 alone more than 230 films, studio and indie, were shot in New York. Among the year’s most well-known features were J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year and Chris Rock’s Top Five, while television included Boardwalk Empire, Girls, and Orange is the New Black.

A Most Violent Year was shot in New York in 2014. Courtesy of A24

A Most Violent Year was shot in New York in 2014. Courtesy of A24

Warren Leight, executive producer of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has always (and only) shot in New York. “I find the quality of the acting pool and the dedication of the crews make up for the occasional gridlock. Strangely, a problem we’re having now [on the show] is that Manhattan has become so upscale—we have a harder time finding blighted areas when we need them. I also like how blasé New Yorkers are about shoots in their neighborhoods. They’re happy to see SVU because they know and like us, but then they get on with their day and we get on with ours.”

The entertainment industry contributes approximately $7.1 billion to New York City’s economy annually and employs some 130,000 New Yorkers. Production facilities include Broadway Stages, Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silvercup, Steiner Studios and many others. Of course, education opportunities are tops: In the classrooms of New York University, Columbia, School of Visual Arts, New York Film Academy, and the high school-level Ghetto Film School, students dream of becoming their neighborhood’s next Darren Aronofsky, Desiree Akhavan, Noah Baumbach or Ned Benson.

In addition, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and Brooklyn Workforce run the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program, which has thus far seen over 500 PA alumni, many advancing in their careers and gaining union membership.

When you add festivals like Tribeca, New York Film Festival, Urbanworld Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival, DOC NYC, Big Apple Film Festival and independent theaters such as IFC Center, the Angelika, Film Forum and the Village East Cinema, you have a city alive with exposure to every type of film available. So head over to your favorite borough, and pray that you’re lucky enough to find an affordable apartment.

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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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