Houston reels in impressive ranking among 25 best big cities to be a filmmaker
Good news for cinephiles and aspiring directors: Houston has landed a respectable spot among the 25 best big cities to live and work as a moviemaker.
Landing at No. 21 on MovieMaker Magazine's annual list, Houston joins four other Texas cities in the top 25: Austin (No. 12), Dallas (No. 20), San Antonio (No. 22), and Fort Worth (No. 25).
The Bayou City earned high praise from MovieMaker, which touting our diversity and low cost of living, a "special find in an American metropolis of its vastness and opportunity," per the report.
But, MovieMaker adds that "it’s surprising that the country’s fourth-largest city isn’t a bigger film hub, but it has its hands full being one of America’s most diverse, business-friendly, and culturally blessed cities, all while being home to NASA."
Houston, even without big tax incentives, "remains irresistible to many filmmakers, and Richard Linklater’s semi-autobiographical 2022 animated epic Apollo 10 ½ is a great indicator of why — its history is fascinating, and its competitive drive intoxicating," the report adds.
Recent shoots here in H-Town include VH1’s Hip Hop Family Christmas Part 2 and HBO’s Max’s House of Ho.
MovieMaker compiles its annual list based on surveys, production spending, tax incentives, additional research, and personal visits whenever possible — with the notable exclusions of Los Angeles and New York:
"We don’t believe people should have to be rich or well-connected to make movies," writes MovieMaker Editor Tim Molloy. "And we know plenty of people who moved to L.A. or New York with filmmaking dreams and ended up working industry-barely-adjacent jobs just to pay the bills. We think the best place to live is one you can afford — a place where you can be happy, inspired, and financially free to pursue your art."
These criteria are themes throughout the ranking: Atlanta, Georgia, took the top spot overall, followed by Vancouver, British Columbia (No. 2), and New Orleans, Louisiana (No. 3). The five Texas cities on the list all boast more affordability than Los Angeles or New York, and each one features a deeply supportive film community and various local incentives.
Elsewhere in Texas:
Austin unsurprisingly took the highest Texas spot at No. 12, scoring points beyond the obvious benefits of SXSW. MovieMaker praised smaller fests like the Austin Film Festival, as well as the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, and Austin's impressive list of filmmaker residents (Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Terrence Malick — to name a few).
Dallas earned the No. 20 spot for its easy access to both coasts, diversity, experienced crew base, easily obtainable permits, hotel deals, and more. San Antonio, No. 22 was selected for its plethora of permitting options, reinstatement of local film incentives, and growing educational opportunities such as the University of Texas at San Antonio’s new Bachelor of Fine Arts Film & Media Studies program.
Last but not least, the No. 25 ranking went to Fort Worth, where Taylor Sheridan's Yellowstone spinoff 1883: The Bass Reeves Story is currently shooting — and looking for talent.