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.
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.