.. [W]e based it on surveys with film officials, discussions with filmmakers, independent research into cost of living and quality of life, and, whenever possible, visits to the cities and towns on this list.
We also took into account that some people want to live in a massive city with the biggest possible overall film-industry spend, while others want to live in a smaller community with high per-capita spend. That’s why we offer one list of Big Cities, and another list of Smaller Cities and Towns. But we’ve made a change this year, capping the Smaller Cities and Towns list at places with a population of 200,000 or less. That means cities like New Orleans — No. 1 on our Smaller Cities and Towns list last year — have been bumped up to the Big Cities category.
For this and other reasons, we have a new No. 1 this year in both categories. After the astonishing feat of spending four consecutive years at the top of our big cities list, Albuquerque is handing the top position back to the big city that last led our list in 2018. Albuquerque hasn’t so much slipped as spread the wealth across the rest of New Mexico. The state, which we visited for several days in the summer of 2022, has built a thriving, sustainable film scene that goes well beyond its biggest city. And of course Albuquerque remains one of our favorite cinematic cities.
Finally, as you’ve probably heard, you can do almost anything over Zoom now — so your options have been freed up considerably in recent years. We understand that cold weather will be a non-starter for some people, and hot summers a problem for others. Family and personal connections are incredibly important. So our top choices may not be your top choices, and that’s fine. We hope this list helps your research and fires your imagination.
All that said, let’s travel.
SEE THE ENTIRE LIST: We highlight Atlanta and Savannah here. Atlanta was the #1 city in the Big Cities category and Savannah was #3 in the Smaller Cities and Towns category.
1. ATLANTA, GEORGIA
The center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and the anchor of Georgia’s more than $4 billion film industry last year — comes closest to rivaling New York or Los Angeles for film and TV opportunities. Just spend a few days in Atlanta and you’ll feel a powerful sense of things happening everywhere, and creative people thriving. It’s a little more expensive than the average U.S. city, but it’s a bargain considering its size and abundance of anything you could want: jobs, creative opportunities, great food, and culture. The 20% tax credit is boosted another 10% for productions that include the now-very-familiar Peach logo. Recent projects that shot in Atlanta and the surrounding region include Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, DC’s Black Adam, and the subject of our latest cover story, Warner Bros.’s Creed III.
The permitting process is easy and efficient, and soundstages, equipment rental houses and post facilities abound. Atlanta is also home to the famed Atlanta Film Festival, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, BronzeLens Film Festival, Morehouse Human and Civil Rights Film Festival, and SCAD TVfest, among other festivals. SCAD is one of the anchors of its film culture: the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design is a colorful and joyous place where students learn everything from gloriously experimental animation to using a state-of-the-art Volume screen to nailing an elevator pitch. The city’s next generation of filmmakers is coming in hot. Atlanta has energy, passion and a constant sense of progress.
Smaller Cities and Towns
3. SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
A town of endless charm, with a surprisingly low cost of living, Savannah is one of the country’s most-loved tourist destinations. But why leave? Its locations — from picturesque marshes and beaches to the pristine historic district, call out to be filmed, and Savannah’s film history goes back more than a century. The city’s diversity, in every sense, allows it to stand in for just about anywhere in America. (Recent films shot here included Halloween Ends.) Atlanta is the biggest economic driver of Georgia’s film economy, but Savannah offers the same tax credit (up to 30%), a more reflective pace, and even more architectural majesty per square foot. A sense of romance hangs in the air like Spanish moss from the trees. The main SCAD campus does a lovely job of showing off the city each year with the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, which draws a steady stream of award-season films and A-list talent who share their experience and wisdom with SCAD students and passionate local film fans. Employment opportunities are plentiful enough that many graduates opt to stay in this city of less than 150,000 people instead of venturing off to Atlanta, New York or Los Angeles.
Used with permission and in partnership with MovieMaker. See the complete list here.