As in previous years, the criteria for making the much-coveted list includes but is not limited to the following:
- Opportunity to screen new films;
- Continuing education for filmmakers;
- A creative community with strong networking events with other film professionals;
- Ample local studio space; and
- Competitive tax incentives for filmmaking.
This week, we’re showcasing Austin, Texas, standing prominently at No. 2 on the MovieMaker 2012 list. Austin has appeared on this notable list since it began more than 12 years ago; last year, Austin was ranked No. 4.
Being the capital city of Texas and home to 700,000+ residents, Austin, affectionately called “The Live Music Capital of the World,” is uniquely famous for its creative and artistic aura. The city’s temperate climate (hot summers and mild winters) promotes a vibrant outdoor lifestyle for Austinites which results in theaters and film festivals, and nearly 200 music venues for rock, blues, jazz, hip hop, punk or Latino shows.
Speaking of film festivals, SXSW Film Conference & Festival, a popular and beloved string of festivals for film, interactive media, and music, attracts thousands of movie lovers to Austin each spring. Creatives from all fields flock to Austin to witness, share and inspire each other. It’s a true testament when SXSW claims that its mission is to “champion the vitality, innovation and opportunity that drives the entertainment and media landscape,” as well as to “boldly tackle the evolution of all aspects of ‘film’ today, down to its very definition.”
“Independent filmmakers have a wealth of resources in Austin,” says Gary Bond, Director of Film Marketing at the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Aside from our office, the Texas Film Commission and a film-friendly government, Austin is home to the Austin Film Society [founded by Richard Linklater], which has awarded more than $100,000 to new filmmakers, local film support organizations, filmmaker newsgroups, networking communities and film festivals, notably the Austin Film Festival and SXSW.”
10 REASONS WHY FILMMAKERS LOVE AUSTIN
1. Work with the Pros
For the past ten years, film productions in Austin have increased substantially. Many film industry veterans have been returning to Austin for more projects. Some have even made the city their permanent home, including Robert Rodriguez, whose Troublemaker Studios is based here.
2. Super Film-Friendly Community
Even with the big increase in production, Austin remains a film-friendly city for large or small features, TV series and movies, music videos and commercials. Not only are Austinites proud to have their city be a popular film location, governmental entities (cities, counties, and state) also stand ready to support and assist filmmakers in and around Austin.
3. Creative Atmosphere
Austin is home to a deep base of film crew, talents and creative professionals. What does that mean to filmmakers? More production value per dollar spent and per diem savings.
4. Diverse Landscapes
We all know what a cool city Austin is, but did you also know that Austin has a nice assortment of landscapes within a half-hour of the city? Rolling hills to the west, green prairies and agricultural landscapes to the east, pristine lakes, scenic ranchland, and a pine forest ... all contribute their fair share to the charms of Austin. No wonder it consistently ranks as one of America’s best cities to visit (US News and World Report, Money Magazine, Kiplinger and Forbes).
5. Office Space & Accommodations
Austin has plenty of production venues and office spaces, including those provided by the famous Austin Studios. Austin Studios is a 100,000-square-foot film and video production facility located at 1901 East 51st Street. The facility houses five sound stages, in-stage office spaces, a screening room, a break room, an office building, a cyc wall and acres of asphalt, all available for filming productions to rent and use.
Austin also has a host of hotels, motels and extended-stay properties which have hosted numerous film projects in the past. As a result, these businesses understand the film industry’s special requirements and are accommodating and easy to work with.
6. Small Towns
Austin’s surrounding small towns are timeless, and a few even appears to belong to a bygone era. These little cottage neighborhoods are ideal locations for period pieces or modern Americana.
7. Year-Round Temperate Climate
Austin boasts a mild year-round climate and 228 to 300 days of sunshine a year, with July high around 95 degrees and January low around 40. Almost as good as California's weather, no?
8. The Coolest Vibe
Austin is a cool place to hang out during the filming of a production. Not only is it the film capital of Texas, it is also The Live Music Capital of the World®, a title that became official in 1991 after a discovery that Austin Texas had more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Needless to say, there’s always something fabulous going on in Austin.
9. Easy Access By Air
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has been awarded the “Best Domestic Airport Worldwide.” It offers services from all major airlines and nonstop flights to 54 destinations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, including Los Angeles.
10. Film Incentives
Austin’s film incentives are generous and competitive. To start off, filmmakers can use most of the city-owned locations (such as parks and public libraries) at cost, without reservation or location fees. This offer helps expedite filming in the city. It also makes filming in Austin more affordable.
Austin also waives many permit fees for filming on streets, sidewalks and alleys. To help manage crowds and control traffic, the city assigns two police officers for up to 15 filming days. However, this added bonus is available only to productions which qualify for the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program.
There’s also a Film Discount Card Program available for productions filming in the city. Local vendors participate in this program to offer discounts to cast and crew members.
In addition to the Texas’ Sales Tax Exemptions, the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program also offers 5 percent to 17.5 percent payment for eligible Texas spending or 8 percent to 29.25 percent payment for eligible wages paid to Texas residents.
For more information on Austin’s film incentives, contact Jim Butler (via email - Jim.Butler@ci.austin.tx.us or via phone at 512-974-6318).
GARY BOND & THE AUSTIN FILM COMMISSION
Austinites are proud of their city’s catchy and unique slogan “Keep Austin Weird” and strive to maintain and live up to that artsy, funky reputation. They’re not alone in their endeavor, however. The Austin Film Commission, formidably led by film commissioner Gary Bond since 1984, has also been actively and creatively working to bring more filming productions to the city. Mr. Bond’s 28-year experience in the film industry is perhaps one of the main reasons why Austin is always on Hollywood’s top film locations list.
Filmmakers interested in filming in Austin can obtain much of the information they need from the Film Commission’s office located at 301 Congress Avenue, Suite 200. The Austin Film Commission’s website also has a chockful of information for filmmakers, from local filming education, to a comprehensive film-related business directory of more than 1,900 listings and credits of film crew, film-related businesses and support services in Austin.
The site also includes information on how to obtain permits to film on Austin streets, sidewalks and alleys. The good news is ... there is no fee for these permits. If filming on a private property, it’s even better. There is no permit required for private properties.
For information on productions filmed in Austin, visit the IMDb list of movies filmed in Austin.