10. Montreal, Québec
“I grew up watching Batman and Star Trek dubbed in French,” says Montreal-born director and editor Saul Pincus (Nocturne). “French pop culture meets English pop culture—that can’t help but affect the craftspeople who make movies in Montreal. It’s a great place to shoot because it has a large, experienced talent pool that understands levels of productions, from the largest to the smallest. It can also pass for itself, or North America, or Europe.”
Pincus’s endorsement is borne out by the sheer variety of productions that’ve recently planted a flag in Montréal, from the gargantuan (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) to intimate fare such as Kim Nguyen’s stock trading drama The Hummingbird Project, to Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking, which is set in the future and will presumably avail itself of Montreal’s world-class VFX infrastructure—“more of a reason tax incentive-wise to stick around after you’ve shot,” adds Pincus—to create an imagined world.
As a world-class VFX hub, the city recently hosted the workload of films such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049, and Quebec’s National Film & TV Commissioner Chanelle Routhier cited “the rise of VFX in the film and TV industry” as one of the central draws Montreal boasts more of than other cities competing for productions. Other factors include the construction of a second major studio, stable tax incentives ($250,000 threshold to access), specific VFX tax incentives, and the competitive Canadian dollar. Add in that Montreal is five hours from New York, with 350-plus hotels and 6,000 restaurants, is gorgeous, and has a remarkably inexpensive cost of living, and it’s not surprising that it’s so far been able to retain its storied hipness.