Let’s assume for the moment that this June you’re graduating from film school in, say, New York. You know some moviemakers in Greenpoint who’ll help you work on your projects, and vice versa. But rent, even in the scummier parts of Brooklyn, is exorbitant, and you’re flirting with the idea of leaving town for a new city to start your career as a moviemaker. What criteria do you use? Are you more interested in tax incentives or access to good cinema? Do you prefer cheap rent to a tight-knit creative community? Is cheap equipment year round better than a great film festival that parks in your neighborhood for two weeks in March?
To put ourselves in the shoes of new moviemakers (or even old ones looking for a change), we asked ourselves, “What is the description of an ideal moviemaking city?” After some semantical debate, here’s what we came up with: An affordable, intellectually vibrant community that gives tax incentives for in-city or in-state production, and which offers moviemakers access both to equipment and groundbreaking film screenings.
To determine which cities made the cut (and in what order), we cobbled together myriad statistics for each city—including population, dollars generated by the film industry, list of movie projects, cultural vibrancy, and availability of production facilities. That data then helped us narrow down our assessment rubric to just five criteria, and we scored each of 50 cities, comparing the following information: Film Community (scored on 10 scale), Access to New Films (10 scale), Access to Equipment (seven scale), Cost of Living (scored on a reverse five scale—one being the most expensive, five being the least) and Tax Incentives (four scale). The highest possible score was a 36, and individual scores for each of the top 10 cities are provided below.
After going through this process, though, we realized that we finally need to expand this list. Next year, we’ll be ranking the “Top Big Cities” to be a moviemaker, as well as the “Top Small Cities” and “Top Towns.” Shreveport, Louisiana won’t have to compete with New York City based on our new rubric, and Marfa, Texas can’t compete with Boston. But that doesn’t mean both towns don’t deserve an endorsement.……Shreveport, LAThough it may lack New Orleans’ size and moviemaking heritage, Shreveport is emerging in its own right as a viable, cost-effective option for moviemakers looking to shoot in the south. “The city bends over backwards to help filmmakers realize their dreams, and the infrastructure and growing crew base is top-notch,” says producer Michael Flannigan. “It’s a very easy city to navigate and has a diverse look in terms of locations.” In addition to a 2.5 percent sales tax rebate, Shreveport offers such benefits as free locations for most city- and parish-owned buildings, free water for shooting within city limits, and no permit fees for closing state and local roadways to film. The Shreveport-Bossier City Film Office also lends a hand by assisting with casting and prop manufacturing, as well as arranging access to a number of innovative sound stages and studio facilities (totaling more than 870,000 square feet), including the Louisiana Wave Studio (the country’s largest wave tank facility, which generates waves up to nine feet high), StageWorks (the region’s largest and most well appointed studio center) and Millenium Studios, which houses sound stages, a full-service prop house, production service company and more. The only reason Shreveport isn’t a “Top 10” city this year is because of the limited access local moviemakers have to new films. None of the local film festivals is a destination festival—yet.
We certainly don’t have the volume of projects our southern neighbors do, but we have every bit of gusto… perhaps more. The ranking will change entirely next year and Shreveport will be ON the Top 10 list, if not near the very top if we have anything to say about it. Given our recent announcement that short films shot in Shreveport for the LAFP will have the opportunity for automatic entry into three other festivals and a distribution deal with Shorts International who does the Oscar Shorts distribution too, there is a lot to raise a brow about and little room for question that Shreveport is one of the fastest-growing destinations for filmmaking in the country.