Call for Artists Living & Working in Cities That Aren't NYC or L.A. to Share Your Experiences

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April 20th 2017


I first put out this call a couple of years ago, but it didn't receive much of a response. So I thought I'd try again, given how much movement the film and TV business has seen since then. I was especially inspired to revisit it after conversations I had with several filmmakers and actors over the weekend, who are all in some state of flux, anticipating their next moves, debating where exactly they should be when they do make their next moves, whether in key cities - New York and L.A. - where most of them live, or in areas that have potential to become film and TV industry hot-spots; for example, a few of them are considering moving to Atlanta; others mentioned New Orleans as a possibility, citing generally cheaper living (compared to NYC and L.A.) as a key reason.

As a New Yorker who's also an artist (filmmaker specifically), I'm often participating in discussions with other artists (of all kinds, not just filmmakers) about the rising costs of living in what is already one of the most expensive cities to live in, not just in the USA, but the entire world.

In recent years, I've seen several New York artist friends and acquaintances leave for less pricey parts of the country, where the average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment is not over $3,000 a month.

To be frank, I've considered moving myself; but the "to where" question is the brick wall that I constantly run into.  There's really no place like New York City throughout the rest of the United States in my opinion, and I simply haven't seen myself living anywhere else...  at least, not within the USA. Most of my family lives outside the country for one reason or another (we're a family that especially likes to travel and explore), and so there's the possibility that I might eventually be drawn to another continent entirely.

Los Angeles is one city that several of those New York artists (specifically filmmakers) I know, have moved to; it makes sense. They aren't all necessarily moving there because L.A. is cheaper than New York, while still being a *big* city/major market, to use industry lingo; most are moving for career-related reasons. That's where the American film industry calls home for the most part. That's the hub. So of course, if you're in the entertainment business, especially film and TV (whether acting, directing, writing, etc), Los Angeles would be on your very short list of cities to plant your roots in for a while.

But in recent years, some of my Los Angeles people have been leaving L.A. as well, and moving, not to New York, but to other states, like Georgia, and even more specifically, Atlanta, and other cities of its size. Whether it's because the cost of living is lower than it is in Los Angeles (and certainly a lot lower than it is in New York), or because there's maybe less competition, and less of an industry atmosphere, or some other reason, I'm seeing more L.A. filmmakers leave that city for others, while still very much planning to continue with their careers as creatives.

Cities like Austin, TX; New Orleans, LA; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; and even the most expensive city in the USA, San Francisco, are all apparently artist draws currently, if the many conversations I've had on this subject in the last year or so, is of any indication.

So in thinking about all this, and realizing that, as a New York-based filmmaker, I know most about that city, and I'm not as well-informed on what's happening in other bustling filmmaking communities around the country - especially those that aren't in New York or Los Angeles - I thought it would be worthwhile and educational if I opened up the forum, so to speak, and invited artists of all stripes, who are living, working and thriving in cities around the country that are not necessarily any of the so-called *major* markets (and, quite frankly, outside the USA as well), to share their experiences with Shadow & Act readers, many who are artists themselves, possibly considering moves as well, but are maybe wondering what cities should be on their short lists of considerations.

I'm looking for firsthand experiences/wisdom/knowledge that you're willing to share with others. For example, if you're an actress or director living and working with some success in, let's say, Biloxi, Mississippi; paint a picture for those of us who aren't there and know little or nothing of what it's like to be an actress or director (or whatever you are) in that small city with a population of less than 50,000.  Give us a sense of the filmmaking community there, acting almost like an artist's tour guide for anyone who's not from there, and is thinking of moving to the area for one reason or another, while still pursuing their craft. Answer the question, "why should I, as a writer/director/actor/actress/DP/etc, want to move there?" Or, "Will I still be able to thrive there?"

You can be as broad, or as specific as you want to be, maybe detailing a single experience you had, or heard about, that you believe is typical in your area, in whatever your craft is.

If more clarification is needed, let me know.

You can simply share in the comments section below.

The invitation is open, and there's no expiration date on it, so whenever you're ready, dive in; I'll continue to repost this about once a week just as a reminder.

by Tambay Obenson on April 20th 2017
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