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The Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2009: Top 25 Cities

The Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2009: Top 25 Cities

Movie News

Recession. Gas prices. Cost of living. Food prices. Unemployment rate. Home values. Median salary. Sub prime crisis. Government bailout.

They’re familiar phrases we read in the paper, see splashed around the Internet and hear on the radio and television all day, everyday. What’s going to happen this year? Will things get better with the new administration? How will it all play out? And in the meantime, what’s a moviemaker to do? Maybe the most important thing, whether you’re just starting out or ready to make a change, is to identify the most effective place to live.

Each year MM surveys the country to find the areas you’ll be happiest to call home if you call yourself a moviemaker. This time we’re doing things a little differently—first, by opening up the playing field to 25 cities instead of 10 and, second, by focusing on those places that offer the perfect combination of employment opportunities, reasonable costs of living, strong quality of life, affordable home prices and, of course, financial incentives.

We arrived at the final list of 25 only after months of research, interviews and calculations which, in this fast-changing economy, were particularly challenging. We got there by using a formula into which we fed the following data: Cost of living, average salary, unemployment rate, job growth, median home price and crime rate. Next, we added in the number of film schools, festivals, movie-related vendors and local movie theaters. We then factored in the current production scene, i.e. production days, size of talent pool. Extra credit was given for cities doing something unique—like special “green” efforts. Finally, we tallied in the financial incentives for shooting in a particular area.

While incentives have always been an important part of our rankings, they were a more complicated matter in this year’s survey, as many cities are considering reducing or eliminating incentives in an effort to reflect these uncertain times. On the other hand, places such as Michigan, which recently announced the nation’s most aggressive incentive plan, found their way onto the list for the first time because of these cost benefits.

The end result is a list of 25 cities nationwide—some of them expected (Austin, Albuquerque), some of them surprising (Boise, Des Moines)—that offer moviemakers the best all-around chance of finding success with their art during these tough economic times.

Here, then, is MM’s ninth annual ranking of the country’s top movie cities:

1. Chicago, IL
2. Atlanta, GA
3. New York, NY
4. Shreveport, LA
5. Albuquerque, NM
6. Boston, MA
7. Stamford, CT
8. Memphis, TN
9. Milwaukee, WI
10. Austin, TX
11. Detroit, MI
12. Miami, FL
13. Seattle, WA
14. Portland, OR
15. Philadelphia, PA
16. Sedona, AZ
17. Salt Lake City, UT
18. Wilmington, NC
19. Boise, ID
20. Denver, CO
21. Bozeman, MT
22. Wichita, KS
23. San Diego, CA
24. Richmond, VA
25. Des Moines, IA

Honorable Mentions:

*San Antonio, TX

*Lexington, KY

*Sheridan, WY

*Baltimore, MD

*Portsmouth, NH MM

This article appears in the Winter 2009 edition of MovieMaker Magazine, which can be purchased on newsstands everywhere.

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