Small Cities and Towns: On the Cusp

Ashland, Oregon

If you are fanatical about Shakespeare, top-notch coffee, zero traffic and no sales tax, Ashland may be the perfect place to put down creative roots. Living in the tiny 20,000-strong nook of Jackson County won’t come very cheap, but Ashland’s pros—and its beauty, both natural and manmade—outweigh the cons. Oregon continues to feed its film economy with steady support: The City of Ashland gave Southern Oregon Film and Media a $14,000 economic development grant in 2016, and the state’s overall incentive increase includes funding for productions outside the Portland metro area. Muse, thy name is Ashland!

Heading for the hills: Moviemakers in Ashland capitalize on the surrounding natural beauty. Photograph by Mary Wilkins Kelly

Cleveland, Ohio

Home to the Rock and Roll Hall Fame and the iconic mainstreet USA neighborhood from A Christmas Story, Cleveland is one of the most walkable cities in the United States, with a cost of living roughly nine percent below the national average. Aspiring moviemakers take note: Cleveland State University will open Ohio’s first standalone School of Film, Television, and Interactive Media in 2017. As part of the state’s newfound focus on moviemaking, the city offers a healthy 30 percent tax credit on qualified in-state production expenses (minimum spend $300,000). We’re keeping an eye on this one.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pair Pennsylvania’s vibrant film incentives with a city that’s been named America’s most livable several times in the past couple of decades, and you get the appeal of Pittsburgh. It’s got three rivers, 446 bridges (who doesn’t love a good, dramatic bridge scene?), an abundance of fries and a thriving arts community. Last year, the city generated over $100 million dollars from assorted movie projects, among them Denzel Washington’s Fences based on a play by unofficial Pittsburgh laureate August Wilson, and Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying. MM


Big Cities: 1. New York, New York and Vancouver, British Columbia / 3. Los Angeles, California / 4. Atlanta, Georgia / 5. Chicago, Illinois / 6. Austin, Texas / 7. Toronto, Ontario / 8. Albuquerque, New Mexico / 9. Boston, Massachusetts / 10. Memphis, Tennessee / 11. Montreal, Quebec / 12. Portland, Oregon / 13. Dallas, Texas / 14. Houston, Texas / 15. San Diego, California / On the Cusp: San Antonio, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Washington, D.C.
Small Cities and Towns: 1. Savannah, Georgia / 2. Santa Fe, New Mexico / 3. Providence, Rhode Island / 4. New Orleans, Louisiana / 5. Richmond, Virginia / On the Cusp: Ashland, Oregon; Cleveland, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2017 issue, on newsstands February 7, 2017. Illustrations by Kim Salt.

Read last year’s lists here: Big Cities, Small Cities and Towns. Is there a place you think should be in the running for 2018? Tell us where and why in the comments!

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