Leaving Los Angeles: Where Else Can You Go to Start Making Movies

Leaving Los Angeles: Where Else Can Filmmakers Thrive?
The industry isn't stuck in one spot anymore, so neither is your future. 

For a long time, the pot of gold (or the idea of it) at the end of the rainbow of a creative career was in Los Angeles or New York. This is no longer the case. 

Moviemaker magazine put together a list of the best places to live and work as a moviemaker. That list is pretty obvious, though the rankings may surprise you (or incite some arguments among the denizens of our major metropolitan areas). 

The really interesting one is this list of small cities and towns

To me, this is just more evidence that people need not migrate to the coast to accomplish their industry goals. We live in the era of uploading content for countless eyeballs at any moment with just a smartphone. That means soon creators won't have to worry about where they live at all. 

But even if we're talking about finding work on a set, the options have grown. This is a list of cities that have burgeoning film business activities, but it's also an actionable resource. It can help you get somewhere to both do the work, and have a good quality of life. 

Moviemaker ranked the cities based on the number of productions but also on things like the number of film schools and FX houses. So these locations can help you connect to jobs, but also to learning opportunities, and a community of like-minded creators. That used to come with the premium of rent in LA. Those days may be coming to a close. 

Though I doubt it will help the traffic on the 405. That seems permanently beyond repair. 

But for now, let's focus on the positive! Where else in this country can filmmakers grow and thrive?

Here is MovieMakers ranking of big cities: 

1. Albuquerque, New Mexico

2. Atlanta, Georgia

3. Vancouver, British Columbia

4. New York, New York

5. Los Angeles, California

6. Chicago, Illinois

7. Toronto, Ontario 

8. Austin, Texas

9. Montreal, Quebec

10. Memphis, Tennessee

Here is MovieMakers ranking of small cities and towns: 

1. Savannah, Georgia

2. New Orleans Louisiana

3. Santa Fe, New Mexico

4. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

5. Cincinnati, Ohio

6. Ashland, Oregon

7. Knoxville, Tennesee

8. Kansas City, Missouri

9. Providence, Rhode Island

10. Richmond, Virginia

Any of these cities near you? Any city you know of with a lively and developing filmmaking community and ecosystem? Share the knowledge in the comments.       

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Your Comment



January 18, 2019 at 5:54AM


Austin is a fantastic place to make movies. Or work as a below-the-line on stuff for a living. I loved my time there.

January 18, 2019 at 10:35AM

Patrick Ortman
I tell stories for money.

Austin is really expensive compared to how much work there is (Hipster invasion for the last 8 years). TX slashed incentives to a crazy degree in comparison to NM and LA. Most bigger shows/films that could be in Austin end up in Albuquerque or New Orleans instead. Unless you have an in already, expect to hustle more for less available work.

January 18, 2019 at 1:20PM

Assistant Camera

Is Atlanta drying up or getting expensive? I thought for sure it would be #1

January 18, 2019 at 1:21PM, Edited January 18, 1:22PM

Assistant Camera

I guess there aren't any good places to make films outside the US.

January 19, 2019 at 6:30AM, Edited January 19, 6:30AM


To anybody reading this.

Ignore the article.

Are you in a town all by yourself with no one else there? Handy tip: You can STILL make films.

Rid yourself of this idea that you can only make films in particular cities or part of the world. Start small and build up your skills. You can make films ANYWHERE.

January 21, 2019 at 12:08AM


But can you make an income making films anywhere?

January 22, 2019 at 7:37AM

Justin Mangrich


The internet is a thing that works.

January 29, 2019 at 2:42AM


This is extremely inaccurate. Unless you're privileged and/or have already saved a decent amount of money to fall back on, then you should absolutely not operate under the assumption that you can make money with film just anywhere. Especially if you're a crew member and not an above the line specialty.
I've lived in Maine, Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, and New York. The place I've had the most consistent work is New York. Atlanta was relatively dry unless you're union but it does depend on the department. Mass has an ok industry but it's small and it would likely take a bit of time to establish yourself. Florida has a decent indie industry but it is spotty and scattered throughout the state so you'd likely have to travel a lot for work. Maine is small production companies that if you're lucky you could maybe work for but it would not be creative in the least. I worked on one feature while I was there and the entire crew was flown in from LA save for about 3 locals. It is massively naive to spread the rhetoric that you can live and make money anywhere in the country doing what we do. If you're really trying to make a living with no side hustle then you pretty much NEED to be in one of these bigger cities. Even then, work can still be spotty at least one to two months of the year and you need to be careful with your money since one month you may have no work prospects.
I have no idea what the f you mean by "the internet is a thing that works" but I think it's important not to lead people into a false idea of what is possible and not career and location wise when you clearly either don't know what you're talking about or have lucked out in a way that not everyone may be able to.

February 1, 2020 at 10:52AM


100% true

August 30, 2021 at 5:29AM


South Africa has everything, from wet lands to desserts, from villages to different types of cities

April 9, 2019 at 3:10PM

Content Creator | Writer | Script Supervisor | Director

"The industry isn't stuck in one spot anymore.." No, but No Film School is, it's called America. There are other countries across the ocean's!

December 7, 2020 at 6:44AM

Garrett Hunter

Sacramento, CA
Close to the Bay Area and Tahoe. Several sound stages like Sacramento Media Center (ours). Affordable amenities and a great film office. Huge talent pool to hire locally including G&E. Easy access to SMF (International) Airport.

August 29, 2021 at 11:25AM

John Christensen
Owner/Manager Sacramento Media Center

Los, Angeles has a massive talent pool that filmmakers can access, that you won't find anywhere else.
I think only London can rival if, or Mumbai if you're in India.

August 30, 2021 at 5:28AM