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The Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2019: Small Cities and Towns

The Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2019: Small Cities and Towns

Annual Lists

8. Kansas City, Missouri

“Wild kindness” is what Kansas City moviemaker Jill Gevargizian says one can expect when shooting indie film in KC. “It’s become tradition for my crew and me to have meetings and wrap parties at a dive bar that serves the best pizza, and they know us well now and have offered to cater our next shoot for free,” she says. “I’ve directed over a dozen projects and I’ve only had to pay for a couple of locations; most owners are eager to help. I’m also a hairstylist and my clients constantly offer their homes, businesses, everything to be used in my films—KC people think moviemaking is rad and they want to help.” Gevargizian is to direct the feature film Permanent Address, starring Brea Grant, and hopes to shoot in Kansas City in 2019.

David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight, Blade Runner 2049) wrote and plays the lead in All Creatures Here Below and the film was the first to receive a rebate from the Kansas City Film Development Program. Ninety-five percent of All Creatures Here Below was shot in Kansas City so the production received a $60,000 rebate. Kansas City offers a local production incentive despite a lack of one at the state level, offering rebates of up to 10 percent on qualified expenditures, with a minimum spend of $100,000-$300,000 per film. The annual cap for the incentive is $75,000 and selection is not first-come, first-serve.

“Kansas City isn’t just where I’m from, it’s the most vibrant cross-section of the Midwest that I’ve found in 2018, both visually and socially,” Dastmalchian says. “To tell the story at the heart of All Creatures Here Below I needed a location that had specific urban, suburban, and rural landscapes and Kansas City is a fresh collection of locations and landscapes; there is so much space, architecture and pastoral settings which haven’t been lensed by moviemakers, so it feels undiscovered. We used mostly local artists for our team and found an abundance of highly-proficient crew.” He adds that he’s excited about his next KC project, supernatural thriller Hide Your Eyes: “We have a very small, but talented team on board for that one, and they’ve already fallen in love with the city.”

David Dastmalchian and Karen Gillan on the Kansas City set of All Creatures Here Below. Image courtesy of Planeo Films

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  1. Avatar

    Rebecca Gibson

    January 17, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    Winnipeg! Not to brag, but there is about to be a BOOM here. The community is amazing, so welcoming to production (not burned). The architecture is glorious, there are four beautiful seasons, the crews are not only competent – but tenacious and deeply talented. There is a tax credit unparalleled in any other Canadian centre that was made permanent by the provincial government 2 days ago. Great hospitality, diverse people – strong and experienced producers. It’s the world’s best kept secret in film, and it’s only getting better.

    • Avatar

      Eric C Oveson

      January 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      That is interesting, had no idea.I am sensing there is going to be a big change overall in the industry too, like how many times can you see a film and it’s LA or New York ?

  2. Avatar

    Pearl Spa KC

    January 24, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Kansas City rocks!`

  3. Avatar

    Michelle Daniels

    February 4, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Cumming, Georgia is a great film city too! There’s so much filming happening there and it’s a small suburb just north of Atlanta. Ozark called this city home – there’s other productions that have discovered it, too.

  4. Avatar

    T. Bender

    August 27, 2019 at 6:46 am

    After working on such films as MI 3, Transformers 1 & 2, WindTalkers, Operation Dumbo Drop, Speed 2 and other films along with such TV series The Unit, Threshold, and Space Above and Beyond. My wife and I now call the Knoxville area home. I also had a great time doing commercials.
    Now retired for many years.
    The Knoxville area is a great place to shoot lending itself to all film genres be it action adventure, sci-fi, comedy or drama. One might call the Knoxville area a blend of old with the new.

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