San Antonio is in the spotlight again, ranked for the fourth consecutive year as one of the principal locales for filmmakers.
MovieMaker, a quarterly magazine and website based in Los Angeles, has just released its annual list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2022. San Antonio made a great showing as the No. 22 city nationally and third-ranked Texas city.
Though the No. 22 ranking is impressive for the Alamo City, it is a bit of a dip from the Capital City’s MovieMaker ranking of No. 20 on the 2020 list.
Texas is the best-represented state on the MovieMaker list, with four cities ranked as tops for moviemakers. Aside from San Antonio, Lone Star State locales making the list include:
- Austin: No. 8, down from No. 6 in 2020
- Dallas: No. 15, down from No. 13 in 2020
- Fort Worth: No. 25, and making the list for the first time ever
MovieMaker compiles its annual list based on a variety of factors, among them surveys, production spending, tax incentives, additional research, and personal visits.
Of course, as the publication notes, the ongoing pandemic has put a wrinkle in the usual production of most movie-industry projects.
“The COVID pandemic continues to rage on two years after the virus landed on American shores, and one of the few silver linings has been a revolution in telecommuting — giving us all more freedom than ever before to live and work where we want, how we want. The movie industry is no exception,” MovieMaker says. “Post-production coordinators are managing workflow between editors and animators from the comfort of their own homes, and the writers’ room may also be a bedroom. Production, however, can’t always be facilitated through Zoom calls. So, for on-set crew, producers, and directors, it remains essential to be close to someone yelling, ‘Action!’”
It makes sense that San Antonio rated highly on the MovieMaker list, as it features a spectacular range of film-industry organizations, locations, and incentives.
MovieMaker specifically highlights San Antonio’s walkability, celebrated culinary scene, vibrant creative culture, and centuries of history as lures for filmmakers.
“San Antonio offers a welcoming film community and timeless locations for any type of project,” says MovieMaker editor-in-chief Tim Molloy. “The countless filmmakers moving to Texas from Los Angeles and California should take a serious look at this charming, friendly, affordable city, the seventh-biggest in the country, for a vibrant and dedicated film culture and lots of opportunities to work.”
It’s no accident that San Antonio is consistently noted as a filmmaking city. In fact, San Antonio has made strategic efforts to develop its film scene, including offering free film permits for City-owned properties. The magazine also considered the Department of Arts & Culture’s new Individual Artists Project Grants Program, which provides $5,000 grants to San Antonio artists, including filmmakers, to produce new, original, and high-quality work.
“With increased demand for filmmaking due to the pandemic and how content is consumed at a rapid pace, San Antonio’s talented cast and crew, diverse locations, and free film permits are key selling points to productions,” says Krystal Jones, Department of Arts & Culture interim executive director. “This trend can even be seen within San Antonio with local organizations transitioning to streamed or hybrid options for events that are typically held in person. They were able to make this pivot with the help and expertise of San Antonio’s filmmaking community.”
Then, of course, there’s the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program managed by the Texas Film Commission, which has itself increased the number of projects being made in the Lone Star State since its inception in 2005. According to the TFC, between September 1, 2007 and August 31, 2021, that program has generated $1.74 billion in in-state spending, created 162,000 jobs, and produced a 510 percent return on investment.
San Antonio has hosted a variety of notable productions in the past year alone. They include:
- FX on Hulu’s Pistol, directed by Danny Boyle and featuring Louis Partridge, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Anson Boon, Emma Appleton, and Toby Wallace
- HBO Max’s HA! Comedy Special, with talent including Danny Trejo, Carlos Santos, and Paul Rodriguez
- Motortrend TV’s Built for Business, led by Cameron Davies of San Antonio-based Cruising Kitchens and Davies Entertainment
- 60 Second Docs featuring Becky Hammon
- TLC’s Outdaughtered
- PBS’ Generation 9/11
- VH1’s My True Crime Story
- HGTV’s House Hunters
- Facebook’s Hot Pants
Albuquerque, New Mexico, claimed the No. 1 spot on the MovieMaker list for the fourth year. And on MovieMaker’s correlating list of the Best Small Cities and Towns to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2022 — which included no Texas cities — New Orleans landed at No. 1 for the second year (though many would question the designation of the Crescent City as a “small” city or town).
The full rundown of the MovieMaker list for 2022 appears in the magazine’s new winter issue.