8) Which city is best for learning filmmaking?

It is true that you can learn to make films anywhere in the world but there are only a few cities that can help launch your career in filmmaking. A city with a healthy film industry will allow you to network with filmmakers and actors, participate in film festivals and provide you with the resources you need to create your film.

Do you want to pursue your filmmaking in a place where you’ll be free of distractions, or do you need the stimulation of a city? Does the town or city have a cultural community that will allow your work to thrive? Will you be placing yourself thousands of miles from the place where you want to film your work? If you ultimately want to work in Hollywood you might want to aim for a California school so you can go ahead and begin building that network. If you want to work “regionally” (code for “outside LA or NY”), you should consider studying close to the place where you want to ultimately live, work, and film. (One important exception: If you want to teach filmmaking, don’t go to a school where you might want to ultimately teach. Many schools have explicit policies against hiring “their own” as tenure-track faculty.) One way or another, a school’s location is an incredibly important factor to consider.

Just being in cities like Hollywood, New York City or Austin may help you evolve as an artist. The most prestigious and inspiring locations in the world, New York, the crossroads of the world and independent filmmaking mecca. New York City itself helps to shape the artistic vision, invigorates your imagination, motivates your creative enthusiasm; it is the perfect training ground for any art form. Then there is Los Angeles.

LA - the heart of movie land, the entertainment capital of the world; Back to the Future, American Beauty, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Desperate Housewives, The L Word… The city with the whole world inside it; Hollywood walk of Fame, Kodak Theatre, Sunset Strip, Mulholland drive, Malibu beaches, Beverly Hills… Further more, the unique backlot of Universal Studios, where the movie magic happens, literally made up of the neighborhoods of the world: a Mexican Villa, a Roman square, New England street, a Renaissance courtyard… It is a chance to network with the entire city devoted to film production. But there is much more then New York City and Los Angeles.

Here, then, is Movie Maker’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

Formula Used - 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.

Plus, the international filmmaking community is growing stronger every year. There are many great film schools to consider in the Middle East, Spain, France and South America.

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(c) 2009