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Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh crowned ‘Best Places to Live and Work' for filmmakers

A car with a film camera attached making the movie Fast 8
Filmming 'Fast 8' in downtown Cleveland

Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh were recently named three of the best cities to pursue filmmaking as a career by MovieMaker. Pittsburgh ranked the highest at No. 10, followed closely by Cincinnati at No. 11. Cleveland came in at No. 18.

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati topped Austin, Texas, and Boston, in the results, and Orlando fell far below Cleveland in the annual list.

When researching its list, the online publication focuses on livable cities that support filmmaking on every level. “We don’t believe people should have to be rich or well-connected to make movies,” the publication writes. “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.”

Scene from White Noise with Adam Driver
Netflix's 'White Noise' shot in Cleveland, Oberlin, and several NEO locations

Filmed in the CLE

Cleveland is a “cinematic powerhouse with Midwestern charm,” writes the pub, adding that Cleveland has a long record of proven success and stability.

The city’s ability to double as almost any other part of the country was a key component. Downtown has doubled as New York and Washington, D.C., most notably in The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier. Its suburbs - both eclectic and traditional - appear in films like White Noise and Judas and the Black Messiah. And Lake Erie provides a waterfront that could serve as almost any body of water on Earth.

“It offers a deep bench of production facilities and equipment rental houses,” the article reads, “and Northeastern Ohio’s history with the industry means experienced crews who earn the same rates as those in more expensive regions.”

Movie crew at night in Cincinnati
Night shoot for 'A Kind of Murder' in Cincinnati

Shooting in the Queen City

At the southern end of Ohio, Cincinnati stood out for its recent boom in film production, “hosting such productions as Shirley, the Regina King biopic of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders, starring Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, Michael Shannon and Jodie Comer, and Wise Guys, directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robert De Niro as two different gangsters.”

The influx of work is attracting film professionals from Ohio and out of state who are moving to the Queen City to pursue increasing production opportunities. The pub calls Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine Film Festival wonderfully diverse and listed it as one of the world’s 25 Coolest Film Festivals.

Making The Pale Blue Eye in Pittsburgh
Behind the scenes on 'The Pale Blue Eye'

Steel City scene stealers

We all know about the rivalry between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, but filmmakers leaving in either city or the spaces in between will attest to the Steel City’s fantastic film production slate. They also benefit from the success of both cities, since the two are separated by only a two-hour drive.

Pittsburgh makes a huge leap in the rankings, too, moving from MovieMaker’s small cities list to its big cities list this year. And why not? The city hosted Christian Bale’s The Pale Blue Eye, which recently debuted on Netflix, the recently released A Man Called Otto with Tom Hanks, and the second season of Mayor of Kingstown.

All three cities benefit from tax incentives, but Pittsburgh wins that battle. Eligible projects receive 25%, with an extra 5% if the production uses Pennsylvania-qualified production studios or post-production facilities. Of the $100 million available through the program, $5 million is carved out specifically for independent films, the pub notes.

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