It’s MovieMaker’s 2014 edition of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker! We’re counting down through our Top 10 Big Cities, Top 5 Small Cities, and Top 5 Towns—releasing one location a day for the entire month of January. The full list, published in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2014 issue, will be available on newsstands January 28.


Unlike previous years where locations were pitted against each other in a single pool, this year we separated the list into three distinct categories: Big Cities (pop. 500,000 and up), Small Cities (pop. 100,000 to 500,000), and Towns (pop. 100,000 and under). After months of research, interviews, and mathematical formulas, we boiled the rankings down to the essential elements. All locations were rated according to six criteria: Film Production in 2013 (shooting days, number of productions, dollars generated), Film Community and Culture (film schools, festivals, independent theaters, film organizations), Access to Equipment and Facilities, Tax Incentives, Cost of Living, and a General category that included lifestyle, weather, and transportation. Did your place of choice make the list? If not, maybe you should choose again if you’re serious about rooting yourself in a location that’s conducive to your career and life goals – or drop us a comment proposing a place we overlooked this year!


Top 10 Big Cities

#2. New York, NY

Quite simply, there’s no place like New York, and there’s no place like New York City for moviemaking. The most populous city in the U.S., New York employs more than 130,000 in the industry and generates $7.1 billion annually. 267 films were permitted in 2012, and films like Beware the Night (now Deliver Us from Evil), The Humbling, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Hamlet, Birdman, Winter’s Tale and American Hustle all wrapped this past year.


New York offers limitless possibilities for moviemakers seeking storied, iconic vistas. Everything in the city seems to be instantly recognizable: the skyline, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Wall Street, Rockefeller Center, Ground Zero, and Times Square. And the infrastructure for independent moviemaking in Manhattan is world-class, with some of the finest film schools around: NYU, Columbia, New York Film Academy, and Brooklyn College (which just introduced the first ever graduate school of cinema integrated into a working film lot). And superb film festivals blanket the calendar, from Tribeca to the New York Film Festival, Queens World to Big Apple Film.

“New Yorkers have a bad rap for being rude,” said New York director Lee Daniels (The Butler). “But I find people confuse honesty with being rude. I thought when I was doing Precious that since we weren’t a studio with a gazillion dollar budget, folks wouldn’t take us seriously. Just the opposite. Everybody bent over backward to help with our little indie!”


This help comes in the form of special programs and incentives, like a 30 percent refundable state tax credit (capped at $420 million for 2010-2019) and up to 35 percent for certain post production expenditures under a stand-alone post program. There’s also a “Made in NY” program, with discounts to more than 1,000 city-wide vendors, marketing credits and free advertising, access to media centers, and production assistant training. This may do something to combat New York’s major downside—you guessed it—the extremely high cost of living.

For more information about filming in New York visit Made in NY.

Check back every day for the rest of January to see what other places made the list! Previous rankings:


10) San Francisco

9) Memphis

8) Portland

7) Philadelphia 

6) Boston 

5) Seattle

4) Los Angeles

3) Austin

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