“MovieMaker Magazine” has more than made up for having overlooked Chicago in past “best” lists by declaring it the country’s number one city for indie filmmaking in its ninth annual ranking of U.S. movie cities.
Making this unexpected pleasure even more sublime was the fact that our that town beat out the Big Apple, ranked three, and such incentive-happy cities as Shreveport, number four and Detroit, number 11.
To arrive at their choices, MM this year opened the playing field to 25 cities instead of 10 and focused on places that offer the perfect combo of employment opportunities, reasonable costs of living, strong quality of life, affordable home prices and of course, financial incentives.
Chicago ably met the criteria and, unlike our beloved sports teams, is number one.
Here’s what “MovieMaker” said:
Before he was the country’s most embattled governor, Rod Blagojevich was better known as a friend to his moviemaking constituency. In 2008 Blagojevich made a 30% tax credit official, “opening wide the doors for a mighty surge of expected Hollywood features and indies in 2009,” says Ruth L Ratny, publisher of ReelChicago.com.
“With the 30% tax credit to crow about, Chicago is poised to enjoy one of its biggest revenue years in recent history ? and the city is eager and ready.”
Though the 30% rebate can be beat by other cities, Ratny for one thinks her hometown has a lot more to offer.
“Chicago’s benefits and the unique features that set it apart ? especially from such newbie incentive states lie Michigan , Wisconsin and Louisiana – start with the fact that it has a well established and highly respected infrastructure.”
“Here you only have to deal with five unions, unlike L.A. where you have to deal with 12 to 14, says Local 476’s business manager Mark Hogan, who says the city can handle five simultaneous feature shoots (and has access to even more trained professionals should the need arise).
While blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” will always help to fuel the production economy , Chicago is an affordable enough city for low budget moviemakers to thrive in, too. “ReelChicago.com estimated more than 300 indie features, shorts and docs were produced here in 2008,” says Ratny.
Still, she admits that the next step is bringing Hollywood further into the fold.
“Chicago can’t progress as an indigenous film center without some Hollywood essentials, such as distribution branches, agents, producers’ reps and, above all, local avenues of indie film funding.”
This year MM opened the playing field to 25 cities instead of 10 and focusing on places that offer the perfect combo of employment opportunities, reasonable costs of living, strong quality of life, affordable home prices and of ourse, financial incentives.
Here are the runners-up: 2, Atlanta; 3, New York; 4, Shreveport; 5, Albuquerque; 6, Boston, 7, Conn., 8, Memphis, 9, Milwaukee, 10 Austin, 11; Detroit; 12, Miami; 13, Seattle; 14, Portland, Ore.; 15, Philadephia; 16, Sedona, Ariz.; 17, Salt Lake City; 18, Wilmington, N.C.; 19, Boise; 20, Denver; 21, Bozeman, Mont.; 22, Wichita, Kan.; 23 San Diego; 24, Richmond, Va.; 25, Des Moines.