June 25, 2015 at 3:25PM, Edited June 25, 3:50PM

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Is Austin, TX the real deal?

Hear me out. So I was reading this article: http://goo.gl/kL5sCN earlier this year. It claims that Austin TX is the BEST place for filmmakers to LIVE and WORK. I came across this article today that seems to back this claim up: http://goo.gl/NSCduv. Kudos to Austin. I'm sure there is a lot of merit to what these articles are claiming. Still I remain a bit skeptical. Now before I get bombarded with replies about how Austin is so much better than here or there, or how Texas is just GOD's gift to filmmakers, and how I'm just some know-nothing noob...let me first start out by saying Austin, TX is a pretty cool city. I've lived there, I've visited many times since, and I currently live 3 hours away (Houston). I'm looking to make a move (I'm not a fan of Houston) to either Los Angeles or Austin. The problem is I have a hard time believing the hype around Austin. Is this city the real deal, or just a passing fad? Now I understand all the challenges of working in the film industry in Los Angeles and NYC. It's expensive, competitive, and downright unforgiving. At the same time those cities are STEEPED in film/tv history and culture. Whenever I visit Austin...not so much. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing I just wonder how sustainable the film market is there when the culture surrounding it isn't really all that prevalent. When articles like the Moviemaker make these claims they seem to always mention the same 6 guys as the proof that Austin is a bona-fide film/tv city (Linklater,Rodriguez,Judge,Zellner,Malick, Bujalski). The problem is that I never see crew calls for anything these guys do on any of the production boards. They seem to work with their teams exclusively. I do see crew calls for reality tv shows (Animal Cops, First 48, HGTV) but for every post on shows like these there are like 3 times as many in the bigger markets (LA and NYC).I do acknowledge that there are a plethora of festivals and concerts that run through Austin every year. Still like I said before for every festival or concert in Austin there are about just as many if not more in either LA or NYC. Then there's the elephant in the room. Cost of Living. And while I will concede that Austin is a bit cheaper than LA or NYC to live, I can't say it SO much cheaper. I'm seeing a two bedroom one bath apartment hovering right around $1300 in Austin while Los Angeles come in at about $1600. So what is it about Austin that makes it the defacto nouveau film hub in 2015 and possibly beyond? What am I not seeing that some you out there do? Once again I'm not trying to be facetious. I really want to gain some valuable insight as to why this city should be considered an option for any filmmaker looking for a place to continue their career.

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Austin is mostly hype. I've lived here, moved here 9 years ago because I also fell for the hype, even then. UT Austin has a lot of film students willing to jump on projects or make projects. That's if you like working for free. Most students nowadays stick to their own teams as it's become so easy to find cheaper and better quality technical production with fewer members on your team. The talent base/actors in Austin is pretty plentiful I must say. That's encouraging. You'll get pro-talent at $50-$60 a day for a non-union actor to be part of your production. I've never had luck with actors or crew that were "there for the experience"... If you really want to test your skills, LA is the place to do it and there is plenty of work out there from everything my LA friends say working within the industry. I chose not to move to LA because I dislike the city and the culture. I also didn't want to live like a hobo with roommates in LA for 2-3 years making the same amount of money as a bar back in some trendy bar, but with longer hours and more work. Being in Houston you might consider finding crew jobs in Louisiana. Even think about Toronto or Vancouver or at least the closet US border cities to those Canadian cities. As usual though, those crews in different locations bring a majority of their people from LA. The one rule of thumb I've had camera assistant and 1st and 2nd AD friends of mine say to me: Get into the unions and stay with teams as long as you can take it from shoot to shoot, location to location. Once you get off one gig/team it's like hitting a real reset button and doing it all over again. Hope you found this useful. Good luck!

August 3, 2015 at 11:55PM

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Mauricio Gonzalez Beckmann
Creative Manager / Editor / TV Producer / D.P.
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Interesting that you say the talent/actors are plentiful. One of the main reasons I've not relocated yet from Los Angeles is because I've found the film talent pool in LA far superior to anywhere else. If good actors in Los Angeles and NY knew that there were more productions they could be working on in Austin I'd encourage them to move there. Is there an actor database in Austin that's you've found success in?

Matt Edwards

February 18, 2016 at 2:04PM

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