Big Cities: 10. Memphis, Tennessee
2016 was a big year for Memphis. The city was home to Oscar-nominated Roland Joffé’s Sun Records series—a title that receives a $4.3 million cash refund on its $17 million in-state spend. In fact, the local commission’s film and TV clients generated a direct spend of $8,523,345 in 2016—a record-breaking figure and approximately eight times 2015’s direct spend.
The reason? “Memphis has become a hotbed for faith-based, independent, music-themed and African American-oriented films,” says Linn Sitler, commissioner of Memphis and Shelby County. “It is also now a magnet for reality-based television and network episodic TV.”
Speaking of record-breaking, the Indie Memphis Film Festival welcomed more attendees than ever last November: more than 11,000. In other festival news, a nice addition to Memphis’ scene was the WLOK Black Film Festival, sponsored by WLOK AM Radio and hosted by the Brooks Museum of Art—a platform to showcase movies that blend music, cinema and art, with a focus on black culture.
Not enough change for you? Well, the ever-diligent Film/TV Commission introduced a revamped online production directory in winter 2016, powered by Reel-Crew, to make hiring easier. And, to top it all off, the Harahan Bridge Big River Crossing—the longest public pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi—opened in fall, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross the river to West Memphis, Arkansas. You get all of this in one of the consistently cheapest cities in America—proving that you need not sacrifice culture and vibrancy when living on a budget.