Five Popular Movie-Making Cities Outside of California

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures
April 8th, 2012

For most movie-goers, Hollywood and the surrounding Los Angeles area of California are synonymous with filmmaking. However, when it comes to actual natural or urban scenery, top filmmakers and budding independents alike turn to other locations throughout the country as the backdrops for their work. Here are five cities that just may be putting some real life scenery into the latest Hollywood productions:

1) New York, New York
Brooklyn and Manhattan were actually early centers of the film-making industry, as the immigrants who developed that industry were concentrated there thanks to the seaports from which they began their journeys to success in the New World. Today, there is no Hollywood screen set that can replicate the realities of any of the five boroughs, from the lap of luxury on Park Avenue to the depths of the slums that still resist gentrification in the Bronx and Brooklyn. New York City has always encouraged moviemakers as it has encouraged artists of all forms, and it is also home to many suppliers and customizers of top-of-the line video equipment.

2) Orlando, Florida
The natural beauty of Orlando makes the city's scenery attractive for use as backdrops to movies set in any tropical location. Its weather allows for outdoor filming all year round. However, Orlando as a filming locale does not stop with its natural scenery and sunshine. Major sound stages are located in Orlando, as the government of Florida attracts the film industry with tax breaks including a sales-tax exemption for qualified filmmakers. Those stages include vast lots that rival the studio lots of Hollywood in terms of both size and versatility.

3) Portland, Oregon
Oregon offers natural beauty and weather that is very different from conditions in Orlando, but nevertheless very attractive to filmmakers. Here, too, though, it is government assistance that keeps the cameras rolling and the stars shining. Whereas New York and Orlando are more suited for big-budget films, Portland is also friendly toward independent filmmakers. Its low cost of living, and rebates for everything from tax to parking, makes it a place where a budding filmmaker can produce a film worthy of critical acclaim on a shoestring, and thereby start a successful career. The small-town feel of Portland is also attractive to film artists who find the combination of big-city resources with friendly people and a warm atmosphere especially conducive to artistic success.

4) Boston, Massachusetts
Boston represents a combination of unique scenery and a vibrant local artistic community that is strong enough to have generated its own nonprofit film support office to replace a government-supported film bureau that was shut down due to budget cuts. This nonprofit organization enlists the help of sponsors to preserve and encourage the local movie-making industry and to attract large-budget productions. The government of Massachusetts continues to support the movie industry with tax breaks as well as use of free stage and office facilities. Boston is one of the cities that is practically synonymous with early American history, and its landmarks form the perfect backdrop to any film with a classic American setting. Therefore, it has made its mark on the American film industry and will continue to do so as long as the artistic community is able to support its continued growth.

5) Houston, Texas
Houston has all of the ingredients necessary to attract filmmakers, and attract them it indeed does. The warm climate and unique Texan culture, its proximity to Latin America and the cultural aspects of its location and a supportive government combine to make Houston a prime new destination for movie shoots. Independent filmmakers are encouraged with contests and subsidies. The producers of larger productions find the scenery and culture compelling enough, but when combined with the freedom to film without permits and sales tax breaks, Houston becomes nearly irresistible to movie makers of all types.