19. TULSA, OKLAHOMA
Tulsa’s new Filmed in Oklahoma Act of 2021 offers a cash rebate base of 20%, with additional uplifts of up to 38% on qualifying expenditures, and has already been a big boon to the state. How big? The Sylvester Stallone Paramount+ series Tulsa King was originally set in Kansas City, before Sooner State incentives lured the production from Missouri. Other thriving productions include Reservation Dogs, from Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo. Local soundstages include a 27,000-square-foot facility within the Cherokee Nation, which has 9,000 square feet of dedicated XR space, as well as edit suites, a professional grade audio booth and more. Industry interest in Tulsa is finally catching up with the region’s love of film. Film lovers will want to be sure to visit the Admiral Twin Drive-In for a classic drive-in experience. And fans of Tulsa King will no doubt want to check out the Center of the Universe, an acoustic anomaly in downtown Tulsa where you can shout your secrets and they’ll echo back to you — but sound garbled to anyone nearby. Just one of the magical qualities in this fast-growing film hub.
18. CLEVELAND, OHIO
The Russo brothers’ hometown is a cinematic powerhouse with Midwestern charm, a very reasonable cost of living, and a long record of proven success and stability. It can double as almost any other part of the country, offers a deep bench of production facilities and equipment-rental houses, and is home to the Cleveland International Film Festival, one of the best proving grounds for crowd-pleasers. Recent projects include the upcoming LeBron James film Shooting Stars, about his early life, and the Tim Blake Nelson drama Asleep in My Palm. Northeastern Ohio’s history with the industry means experienced crews who earn the same rates as those in more expensive regions.
17. MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
Hollywood loves to mine Memphis for its abundant musical legacy – take Baz Luhrman’s Elvis, for example, which was shot in Australia — but Bluff City is well-positioned to become a thrumming film hub, as well. Tennessee has offered a 25% cash refund on qualified expenditures for a decade, but now also offers an innovative new payroll tax credit that can offer up to a 40% payroll tax credit, or even more in some cases. Comcast, owner of NBCUniversal, is among the current beneficiaries thanks to the Dwayne Johnson show Young Rock. And Memphis’ Craig Brewer, director of Coming 2 America and Dolemite Is My Name, has been extolling Memphis’ cinematic virtues since his Hustle & Flow days. Indie Memphis, one of the country’s best film festivals, supports local talent by waiving fees for local filmmakers. If you can’t tell, we’re very big believers in Memphis — one of the projects backed by our own MovieMaker Production Services is Jacir, by writer-director Waheed AlQawasmi, about a Syrian refugee living in Memphis, which stars Malek Rahbani and Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco. Visit and you’ll find exquisite food, a legendarily great music scene on Beale Street, and a very low cost of living.
16. MISSOULA, MONTANA
One word: Yellowstone. A 2022 study by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research found that the show’s fourth season alone contributed $85 million to Montana businesses and non-business organizations, plus $25 million in income for Montana households. That doesn’t even include revenue from tourists who want to visit Ruby’s Cafe in downtown Missoula. Yellowstone hasn’t just boosted Missoula, the nearest city to the real-life site of the fictional Dutton Ranch. It has also opened the state’s eyes to the many benefits of embracing smaller productions. When Amanda Kramer decided to shoot her gender-bending indie Please Baby Please in Butte, about two hours from Missoula, she found that the locals were completely accommodating. “Once they started shooting Yellowstone, a lot of people were bringing in productions, and the Montana Film Office welcomes you warmly. Everyone is so amenable,” she wrote in the fall 2022 issue of MovieMaker. Montana’s many film incentives include 25% compensation for Montana resident crew, 15% compensation for non-Montana crew, 20% of above-the-line compensation for actors, 25% of post production wages, and an additional 5% for using the Filmed in Montana screen credit logo. The state also boasts about 700 available crew members. In addition to rugged natural beauty and a wide variety of locations that can capture many decades, Missoula has a reasonable cost of living, and is home to the outstanding Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. And have you tried the pie at Ruby’s?
Our list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker continues here…