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 Towns

#4. Bozeman, MT

Home to Montana State University, with the world’s first ever MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, Bozeman is nature’s playground for moviemaking. With its unrivaled scenery, recreational offerings, low cost of living, and low unemployment, it consistently ranks as one of the most livable places in the country by National Geographic and CNN, and is home to Montana’s largest airport. And local Star Trek scribe Brannon Braga put it on the map as the fictional site of Earth’s first encounter with an alien species in Star Trek: First Contact.


According to Mark Vargo, DP (White House Down), “Bozeman represents the ‘New West’—a community that is merging hi tech and entrepreneurial companies with an indigenous agricultural culture.” With its world class fly fishing, hiking, whitewater kayaking, mountain climbing, Bozeman has the outdoors covered and has been featured in films like A River Runs Through It and The Horse Whisperer.


A River Runs Through It

“As a DP, the natural light in the northern latitudes is exceptional,” said Vargo. “The summer clouds are extraordinary, there are long days and a magic hour that goes on and on, making for productive days on set. There aren’t too many jets around here, either, so contrails aren’t much of an issue when shooting westerns.” Sounds like you either go Big Sky or go home.

For more information about filming in Bozeman visit the Montana Film Office.

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

1) New Orleans, LA


5) Marfa, TX

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