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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


2. Los Angeles, California

The City of Angels is still the de facto magnet for aspiring film professionals, and the reason why bears repeating: It’s a place where all levels of moviemaking take place on a daily basis, from shows with the most infinitesimal of microbudgets to the most expensive technological spectacles. Wherever your interests lie, the infrastructure is in place to pursue that.

No, it’s not all sunshine: The cost of living in Los Angeles is 44 percent higher than the national average. And all that Hollywood “glamour” can be accompanied by competition not only for locations (FilmL.A., the city’s film commission, is actively working on streamlining the permitting process because of the number of jurisdictions involved), but also to break through and find steady work.

And between employments it’s possible to rub shoulders with Academy members on your journey to joining their ranks. One of LA’s pleasures is enjoying the city’s unbeatable cinephile offerings, with world-class film festivals like AFI Fest, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and Outfest; numerous independent theaters like the Nuart, Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Theater, Cinefamily, American Cinematheque at the Aero and the Egyptian; and outdoor screenings to last you all summer—like Cinespia’s series held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s a real challenge to be bored in L.A., and we haven’t even mentioned the zeitgeisty art, music, food, and fashion scenes in this modern metropolis. Just make sure you have a car (and then be prepared to spend hours in it).

A patio party at Los Angeles art house, the Cinefamily. Photograph by Randy Perry

A patio party at Los Angeles art house, the Cinefamily. Photograph by Randy Perry

The key for survival as an independent in L.A. is persistence and being open to options you may not have considered (and no, we don’t mean of the Dirk Diggler variety). Actress Hope Levy tells her story of finding modest success in Tinseltown. She had an extensive background in theatre and bit parts in television, but she hadn’t quite landed yet. A new path opened when she went to an audition for an animated project at HBO called The Caveman.

“It was my first voice-over. It was with Tim Curry and Charlie Adler,” she said. “I don’t think it even aired, but it gave me the incentive to say, ‘Wow, maybe I could work in animation.’” Levy took several classes in voice work and continued to audition for live action, securing parts on Knott’s Landing, Party of Five and General Hospital, and steady work in animation with roles on shows such as Rugrats, The Simpsons, and dozens of video games.

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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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