MOVIEMAKER — For MovieMaker’s Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2020 list, we made a dramatic decision: We left off Los Angeles and New York City. It’s not that they aren’t great places to live and work as a moviemaker—everyone knows that they are, and that’s exactly the problem. We’d rather tell you about an undiscovered cinematic mecca you haven’t considered before.
So we’re sending New York City and Los Angeles to the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker Hall of Fame, to make room for some well-deserving new additions to our list.
One of them is a short train ride away from New York City. But that’s just one of the stories we want to tell with our annual list, which is again split into Big Cities and Smaller Cities and Towns. We also want you to know about the massive boom in Canadian soundstages, the Southern city that roared back from tragedy, the Pacific Northwest town with a gloriously outsized movie culture, and the Southwestern powerhouses an hour’s drive apart from one another.
We compiled this list through extensive questionnaires, our own research, and visits to almost every location you see below. We factored in film culture, tax breaks, standard of living, and the films shot in each locale, among other factors. We’ve done our best to honestly answer the question: Would we want to live and work in a given city or town?
And would we leave New York or L.A. to do it?
6. Ashland, Oregon
Size matters not for the smallest city on our list, a pound-for-pound cinematic powerhouse.
With a (slightly) growing population of 21,263 people, Ashland boasts eight regional production facilities and 14 equipment rental houses, plus accessibility to larger production centers like Portland and San Francisco, and non-stop flights to Los Angeles. That means film professionals can keep connected to Hollywood even while living in the tranquil foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges. The town’s 785 acres of parks include Lithia Park, 93 acres of forested canyonland around Ashland Creek.
Ashland is home to several festivals, including the Ashland Independent Film Festival, now entering its 19th season, the annual Killer Valley Horror & Comedy Film Festival. It’s also the home of two active film non-profits, Film Southern Oregon and Southern Oregon Film Society, and a hub for the industry trade group, Oregon Media Production Association. And it’s the headquarters of the independent theater chain Coming Attractions Theatres, which operates 18 cinemas from Northern California to Alaska.
Film Southern Oregon estimates that the region’s film industry expenditures range between $6-8 million annually. Recent projects shot in and around Ashland included parts of the Netflix documentary Fire in Paradise and a new series with Jim Belushi, who runs a nearby cannabis farm.