When working on a project as research-intensive as this one, the word you never want to encounter is “unpredictable.” But as entertainment professionals and consumers alike have lately discovered, that’s an appropriate description for the current state of the film industry. From the writers’ strike, still ongoing at press time, to possible actors’ and directors’ strikes in June, it’s definitely not business as usual.
But we didn’t let those uncertainties get in the way of our reporting for the eighth annual countdown of the best U.S. cities to live, work and make movies. Because the good news is that, historically, some of cinema’s greatest moments have been born in uncertain times and today is still the best day to start thinking seriously about turning the idea rattling around in your left brain into a cinematic landmark. The better news, as this list has come to demonstrate, is that you don’t have to be in Hollywood to make it happen. (In fact, due to a rapid decline in feature film production—down more than 20 percent in the third quarter of 2007 alone—Los Angeles didn’t crack our list for the second year in a row.) But plenty of other cities put up a fight—from areas as far-flung as Stamford, CT to Kauai, HI.
So what criteria determined the final rankings? Well, quality and quantity both carried a lot of weight in terms of the local talent pool, production facilities, educational opportunities, networking events,
film festivals and other screening venues. Enthusiasm—on the part of the local moviemaking community, film office and cineastes—meant something, too. Keeping in mind that this is a story about
independent moviemaking specifically, the importance of a city’s financial incentives also could not be understated. Cities that give indies a bigger bang for their buck by offering a variety of different
looks or access to low-cost studio facilities are always great for the indie crowd. Innovation was another factor. At a time when energy prices are at an all-time high, areas that make special considerations for the environment scored some additional points with us, too.
In the end, it was the sum of all these parts that determined the final 10—and this year was one of the closest races ever. Newcomers Albuquerque and Shreveport shot up the list with a vengeance while New York was ousted from the top spot it has held for several years. Which once again goes to show that, when it comes to moviemaking, there are no guarantees. Of course, that is one of the beauties of the art—it consistently proves to us that anything is possible.
Now, onto the rankings…
1) Austin, TX
2) Albuquerque, NM
3) Shreveport, LA
4) New York, NY
5) Philadelphia, PA
6) Wilmington, NC
7) Seattle, WA
8) Portland, OR
9) Baltimore, MD
10) Memphis, TN
*Las Vegas, NV
CITIES ON THE RISE
The Winter 2008 edition of MovieMaker Magazine can be purchased on newsstands everywhere. Single copies can be purchased for $5.95 online at https://www.moviemaker.com/magazine/backissues/winter_2008/ or sign up for a full year of MovieMaker at our special introductory price of just $9.95 at https://www.moviemaker.com/subscribe/top_10_movie_cities.