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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


3. Chicago, Illinois

In the past few months alone, Chicago has welcomed crews for Sinister 2, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, TV’s Empire, Shameless, Chicago PD and Chicago Fire, and dozens of independent films, commercials and industrial projects. With competitive tax incentives, a wide array of production facilities, and numerous iconic locations such as Wrigley Field, Union Station and the “L” transit system, Chicago stays in our top three Big Cities (after coming out on top last year). Throw in dozens of film festivals, independent theaters, accredited film programs, theater and museums, and it’s obvious: Siskel and Ebert’s onetime stomping grounds are made for sophisticated cultural consumers—of the movies, and otherwise.

A still from Lee Daniel's series Empire, shot in Chicago. Courtesy of Fox

A still from Lee Daniel’s series Empire, shot in Chicago. Courtesy of Fox

“I’ve lived in all three major cities, NYC for 11 years, Los Angeles for nine years,” said Amro Salama, a TV actor who’s appeared in everything from Modern Family to Children’s Hospital. “I don’t know where I’ll end up work-wise, but I can 100 percent tell you that Chicago will always be my center of operations. It combines the best of New York and Los Angeles in one city—minus the awesome L.A. weather.”

Salama cites Chicago’s boom in television production over the years as the key to its rise. This recent return of major productions can be directly attributed to efforts made by the City of Chicago to accommodate moviemakers. Chicago PD executive producer Mark Tinker said, “The City of Chicago has bent over backwards to help us accomplish our varied and often complicated filming requests. They’ve streamlined their bureaucracy, thus allowing us access with speed and ease to places ranging from the commonplace to the unusual. It’s a remarkably photogenic city.

“Now, if only they could do something about the number of subzero temperature days between November and March,” he added with a laugh.

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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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