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.

Top cities

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 Small Cities

#1. New Orleans, LA

Not many places can compete with New Orleans’ moviemaking record in 2013: the number of projects (61), volume of direct spending ($675 million), and its generous 30 percent tax credits (on a low minimum of $300,000). When, in 2002, Louisiana began offering its own tax incentives for moviemaking, the Big Easy quickly rose to the top of everyone’s list, earning the nickname ‘Hollywood South.’ “Every person you meet on the street could be the subject of their own film!” said documentary filmmaker Lily Keber (Bayou Maharajah). “There’s no end of subject matter to work with.”


New Orleans often feels like a different country entirely—its atmosphere is that unique. Said actor Lance Nichols of NOLA-set Treme, “It has a hospitality second to none, food that is off the charts, and music to funk to or soothe the soul.” From the French Quarter to Bourbon Street, New Orleans is one of the most architecturally and culturally diverse cities in the country, boasting shotgun houses, creole cottages, American townhouses, and antebellum homes. It’s the birthplace of jazz and poker, and, of course, the home of Mardi Gras. In addition to the usual checklist—schools (University of New Orleans), festivals (New Orleans Film Festival), experienced crew, inexpensive equipment rentals, and convenient transportation—New Orleans also offers 10 massive production stages of up to 20,000 sq. feet, and 10 all-inclusive post-production facilities, making it the complete one-stop shop.

The air in NOLA is rich with a soulful emotional history, too. Said director Garrett Bradley (Black and Blue), “As the American economy has so greatly shifted, there are fewer places for young people to go to survive and follow their dreams. This is a black majority city, a small city, a city in constant threat, a new city and an old city—all at once. This is where the problems are and my work as a filmmaker is motivated by the potential for social change.”


For more information about filming in New Orleans visit Film New Orleans.

Check back every day for the rest of January to see which small cities and towns are the best places to live and work as a moviemaker in 2014! Previous rankings:


10) San Francisco

9) Memphis

8) Portland

7) Philadelphia 

6) Boston 

5) Seattle

4) Los Angeles

3) Austin

2) New York 

1) Chicago


5) Savannah, GA

4) Providence, RI

3) Shreveport, LA

2) Wilmington, NC

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