Top 10 cities to live in if you work in film and TV 2022
If you had to list the top filming locations worldwide, no doubt the usual suspects would spring to mind. But as is the case in most industries, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout - combined with government investment and attractive financial incentives - have led to a change in the status quo.
As these up-and-coming locations begin to take centre stage, we thought it time to update our list of the best cities to live in if you work in film and TV.
Tinseltown. La La Land. Hollywood. While it might be an obvious choice, we couldn’t overlook LA, which has been the centre of the universe for the film and TV industry for well over a century.
So why is Hollywood so popular with production teams? Of course there’s the weather, with the Californian sun providing perfect natural lighting. But the main reason behind Hollywood’s rise to fame is none other than Thomas Edison, who opened the first US movie studio in New Jersey after inventing the kinetograph movie projector and the kinetograph movie camera. Edison used his patents to deter rival film-makers, prompting competitors to move out west. By the end of the 1920s, Paramount, Warner Bros, Columbia and many other well-known studios had established themselves in Hollywood and over 100 years later, its reputation as a leading film hub prevails. In fact, despite Covid-19, LA recorded 10,127 shoot days in Q3 2021, its third strongest quarter in 26 years.
9. New York
Before there was Hollywood, there was New York.
Since there has been Hollywood, there has still been New York.
New York can certainly give LA a run for its money when it comes to production. Its iconic skylines have formed the backdrop of countless films and TV shows, and it’s also home to some of the biggest film festivals in the world, such as Tribeca and the New York Film Festival. It’s no wonder that POP chose New York as the location for its first international office in 2017.
The New York film and TV industry’s impact on the US economy is indisputable. In 2019 it supported approximately 185,000 jobs, $18.1b (£14.1b) in wages and £81.6b (£63.6b) in total economic output. And production in the city is already reported to have returned to pre-pandemic levels.
8. Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s impressive cityscape has been used in some of the most memorable films ever made. The city’s indigenous film industry is legendary - who hasn’t heard of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee?
While Cantonese is the main language of films made in Hong Kong, those made for international audiences or as co-productions are often made in English by English-speaking crew. This makes the city particularly attractive for action movies or action-based comedies in need of a futuristic-looking location.
Although many cities in “Aussiewood” have thriving film industries, we’ve plumped for Sydney, which boasts world-class studios, competitive incentives and a great quality of life. And we’re not the only ones who think Sydney is a great place to make film and TV, with Marvel Studios rumoured to be relocating its US headquarters there for the next five years.
Strong Covid-19 protocols led to an unprecedented boom in both local and international film production, and planned developments like the multi-million dollar Lakeside Studio complex are set to further cement Sydney’s reputation as a locale of choice for studios and production companies alike.
In recent years, Budapest has become a go-to destination for film and high-end TV, and it’s easy to see why, with its stunning architecture, picturesque landscapes and generous tax rebates for production.
In 2019 direct investment in film production in Hungary hit $565.6 million (£443.1m), a 50% year-on-year jump, with around 94% of that coming from visiting international features and TV series. And with a number of state-of-art production studios, it’s no wonder that major blockbuster films - such as Dune - are being filmed there.
Toronto has long been a favourite destination for film-makers on a tight budget. While some films are based on the city, others use it as an affordable double for US settings.
In 2008 London’s Pinewood Studios set down roots across the pond, choosing Toronto as a base in an important commitment to the future of the Canadian film industry. The studio opened the door for large-scale productions and the city’s booming industry has since gone from strength to strength. Toronto is also home to the Toronto International Film Festival, considered by many to be second only to Cannes in terms of influence.
Dubbed the “Hollywood of the South,” the Atlanta film industry is booming, with a reported $4b (£2.9b) in direct spending on production in the state for fiscal year 2021. This isn’t new, with more major films made in Georgia in 2016 than California.
Atlanta’s success is partly down to the generous tax incentives in place to attract productions. It also helps that many Georgia locations are permit free, which removes red tape for producers and locations teams. On top of that, Atlanta’s production infrastructure has grown at a rate that surpasses even the golden days of Hollywood. And following the 2014 opening of Pinewood Studios, it’s safe to say that it’s not just the weather that’s hot in Atlanta.
Call us biased, but we had to include London in the top three. Production across the entire UK is booming, but there’s no denying that London has earned its stripes. The city and its landmarks have been immortalised on celluloid too many times to count - most recently in blockbusters like No Time To Die, Cruella and Boxing Day. Even if you’ve never visited London, you’ll know Westminster, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge at a glance.
Pinewood Studios and Warner Bros Studios in Hertfordshire and Shepperton Studios in Surrey have contributed to the global success of London’s big-budget productions and the highly skilled crew and film services in the city continue to attract Hollywood producers and production companies. Some of London’s best-known studio productions include the Bond movies, numerous Marvel Cinematic Universe titles (eg, Black Widow, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Eternals) and the latest Star Wars movies.
Ireland – and Dublin in particular – is having something of a film industry boom. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a marked increase in production activity by local film-makers, and the country is also establishing itself as an attractive location for international shoots, with expanding filming infrastructure and attractive tax incentives.
Dublin also has another ace up its sleeve. Following Brexit, it’s the single largest English-speaking city in the EU, which could present ample opportunity for those looking to expand here.
You probably weren’t expecting Wales to top the charts, but hear us out. Much like Ireland, the Welsh production industry is on an upward trajectory. In 2021 a number of major deals began to shape the Welsh economy. A stellar example is indie TV production company Bad Wolf, which has reportedly generated more than £110 million of gross value added for the Welsh economy.
Where high-end TV leads, feature films follow - and what really makes Cardiff our top choice is the huge opportunity for production professionals.
Background casting, for example, may be a lucrative opportunity for agents wishing to enter a new market. Production spend is on the up and Wales has already formed the location of a number of blockbusters, including Wonder Woman 1984. And with the cost of living far lower than in many other major UK cities, we think Cardiff is one to watch and every bit deserving of topping our list.
Interested in background casting? Check out Five reasons to become a background casting agent.