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, is on newsstands now.

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 Towns

#2. Ashland, OR

Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon; Night Moves, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Saarsgard; Redwood Highway, with Shirley Knight, Tom Skerritt, and James LeGros—all independent features that just wrapped in and around Ashland, Oregon, which enjoys the same 20 percent rebate off local goods and services, and 10 percent off Oregon-based payroll, as big sister Portland.

unnamed (1)

Said local writer-director Gary Lundren (Calvin Marshall), “Because of the state tax incentives, our crew base is getting deeper every year. So you don’t have to bring as many people from Portland or Los Angeles anymore—though the direct flights to and from LA are great for cast.”

Ashland is within arm’s reach of Medford, and close to San Francisco and Portland, where larger pools of filmmaking resources—cast and crew, equipment, and craft services can be found. Within Ashland itself is Southern Oregon UniversityAshland Independent Film Festival, and a handful of production facilities like the Southern Oregon Digital Media Center and Oregon Sound Recording.

BURN NOTICE -- Pictured: Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe -- USA Network Photo: Justin Stephens

From the university to historic downtown and Lithia Park, Ashland captures small town charm, spectacular season changes, and colorful foliage year round. “I judge a town by whether it ‘wants you to be there’ or not,” said actor Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead). “Ashland is definitely an inviting town,” “The town itself is surrounded by national forest and BLM land, so you can find ‘remote’ locations easily. What could be more picturesque? Heck, there’s even a ski resort up the hill. And drinks are on me at the Black Sheep pub!” MM


Photo by Al Case. (

For more information about filming in Ashland visit the Southern Oregon Film and Television.

Check back tomorrow to see which town came in spot number one! 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

1) New Orleans, LA


5) Marfa, TX

4) Bozeman, MT

3) Boulder, CO

To subscribe to MovieMaker Magazine, click here.

Mentioned This Article: