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Ben Yennie: Our Top 9 Filmmaking Communities in the US (Outside of New York and LA)

While film financing and Film Distribution remain largely centralized in New York and Los Angeles, filmmaking itself is becoming largely decentralized from the traditional hubs.  So with that in mind, we’re going to shine a spotlight on some of the film communities.  We’ve seen that are either already breaking out, or just on the cusp of breaking out.

If you don’t see your community on the list, email us and with why you’re just about to break out, and we might just add it to a follow-up article. 

Atlanta, GA.

The first entry on our list should surprise precisely no one.  Not only does Atlanta have a very competitive tax incentive, but over the years they’ve built a very strong infrastructure capable of supporting a high number of productions at a relatively low cost.  Not only that, but some major production Companies including those behind much of Adult Swim and the team behind Archer are headquartered there.   

If there were a model to follow, it would likely be Georgias.  Look into it film commissioners.

New Mexico

As one of the first states to offer an extremely competitive tax incentive, New Mexico quickly built up a sustainable infrastructure of crew in the state.  While New Mexico’s film scene doesn’t appear to be growing particularly quickly these days, but that’s only due to the level to which it’s been established. 

Austin, TX

Due in part to SXSW, the independent film community in Austin is flourishing.  While it’s always weird in Austin, the weirdest thing might be if you DON’T know any filmmakers in your social circle.  While Austin isn’t producing a whole lot of notable work at the moment, they’re putting together the community and the infrastructure to really break out in the next few years. 

Seattle, WA

This one may seem out of left field, but having spent time in Seattle, and represented films from Seattle, I can tell you first hand that the talent pool there is ready to explode.  The talent level up there is just insane, the big things they’re missing are business people and general infrastructure.  Hopefully the Seattle Film Summit can help with that.​​​​​​​

Kentucky

Kentucky doesn’t seem like it would be a film hub, but given how competitive their tax incentive is it definitely merited a spot on the list.  It’s somewhat convoluted, but it’s possible to get as high as 40-50% of your budget back on the services you use in Kentucky.  It’s worth looking into, if you can get in with the film commission. 

West Virginia

The West Virginia Film Commission is working quite hard to bring more work to the state, and as far as I can tell it’s working.  At least to a degree.  They put in a lot of time (and money) into showing up at various conventions and trade shows like AFM.  It appears that they’re getting quite the reputation, and attracting significantly more work.

Denver, CO

I’m biased on this one.  I grew up in Colorado, and went to Film School in Denver.  Since I’ve left, I’ve watched the industry grow from afar.  It seems that there’s more going on there than cooking shows and reality TV, due in part to a change in leadership for the local film commission.  While the big economic boom to the state recently was legalized marijuana, it’s possible there may be another boom to the state’s economy in film and media making.

Montana

I’ve seen some of the work that’s come out of Montana in recent years, and it’s got a style all of it’s own.  Uniquely western and modern, and truly american without feeling too Americana.  I’d love to see more work from Montana, and it’s work that has the potential to sell with the right sales agency and distributors behind it.  Luckily for them, their film commissioner knows what he’s doing.  (Or at least the commissioner I last spoke with.)

San Francisco Bay Area, CA. 

There’s probably even more bias here than from Denver.  I’m a proud San Franciscan, and I absolutely adore my city.  There are many talented filmmakers here, and the film commission does a great job bringing some higher level productions to the city.  These are things like Sense8.  There’s also a real scene emerging in Oakland, with some fantastic work being shot there and more coming down the pipeline.  

The Bay Area’s major issue is a lack of a cohesive vision.  Oakland is definitely starting to find their voice, but san francisco has a lot of voices trying to be louder than everyone else instead of working together to amplify as one voice.   There’s also an issue with filmmakers not understanding business, and some film organizations pretending like cinema should be purely art, and no business.   If these issues can be solved, we’re looking at an SF Film Renaissance like no one has seen for decades.  

Thanks so much for reading!  again, if you think we missed a community that should be on this list, reach out and let us know why.

Also, if you’re in one of these communities, and you’re looking for an online hub to organize and build to the next level then you should consider joining ProductionNext.  Our new groups functions helps you track local filmmaking events, discuss what’s going on in your filmmaking community, share your videos with others in the group, ask questions about local filmmaking issues, and so much more.

Further, this community plugs directly into a world-class set of collaborative film production management software.  This software can let you budget your film, schedule your film, generate callsheets, create shotlists, track the progress of your shoot, plug in your existing props, wardrobe, and equipment to keep track of it and so much more. 

Click the banner below to check it out.  It’s completely free until you start a project, and once you do you get a generous free trial.  

 

Comments

8/29/18

The mid-Atlantic, DC/MD/VA is also seeing a lot of television production work, as well as some filmmaking. Both MD and VA have recently passed or upgraded their tax incentive programs. Homeland filmed the last season in and around Richmond, VA, due to its ability to look like DC. I believe House of Cards was also shot in the area.