Saturday, January 28, 2023

Wilmington moves up 6 spots, ranks No. 2 as best place to live, work as a moviemaker

Dark Horse Studios began accepting productions to its space in 2020; it announced an expansion underway for 2023. (Port City Daily/file)

WILMINGTON — In just a few short years, Wilmington has worked its way up the ranks as one of the best places to live and work as a moviemaker. The city joined the top 10 small towns and cities list in 2020 and held its number 9 ranking in 2021.

Last year, the East Coast Hollywood town, as its often referred, moved up to number eight. This year, Wilmington jumped up to take the number two spot on MovieMaker magazine’s annual list of small towns and cities.

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MovieMaker compiles its annual list based on surveys, production spending, tax incentives, additional research, and personal visits.

“Wilmington continues to rise as a top destination for film and television production business,” Wilmington Regional Film Commission, Inc. director Johnny Griffin said in a press release. “We are honored that Wilmington was chosen for the fourth year in a row and has received this top honor.”

Griffin credited the “world-class crew” at EUE Screen Gems Studios and the newly expanded Dark Horse Studios, as well as Cucalorus Film Festival.

“Their combination makes Wilmington a successful location for any project to work,” Griffin said. “Additionally, with support from local government and the area’s citizens, Wilmington continues to remain in the spotlight.”

Spending by productions in North Carolina reached a record high in 2021, totaling $461 million. This was the highest investment since 2000 when the state’s first incentive program began.

In 2022, nearly a dozen productions wrapped, with a preliminary economic impact of $210 million.

MovieMaker’s Best Small Cities and Towns to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2023:

10. The Hudson Valley, New York towns of Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Newburgh (join the list for the first time)
9. Ashland, Oregon
8. Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada (joins the list for the first time)
7. Las Cruces, New Mexico (joins the list for the first time)
6. Knoxville, Tennessee
5. Palm Springs, California (joins the list for the first time)
4. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
3. Savannah, Georgia
2. Wilmington, North Carolina (jumps up six places since last year)
1. Santa Fe, New Mexico (jumps up two places to land at No. 1 for the first time)

MovieMaker’s 2023 Best Cities to Live and Work as a Moviemaker:

25. Fort Worth, Texas
25. Orlando, Florida
24. Kansas City, Missouri
23. St. Petersburg, Florida
22. San Antonio, Texas
21. Houston, Texas
20. Dallas, Texas
19. Tulsa, Oklahoma
18. Cleveland, Ohio
17. Memphis, Tennessee (jumps up three places since last year)
16. Missoula, Montana (joins the list for the first time)
15. Salt Lake City, Utah (joins the list for the first time)
14. Baltimore, Maryland
13. Boston, Massachusetts
12. Austin, Texas
11. Cincinnati, Ohio
10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (joins the Big Cities list after previously being No. 4 in Smaller Cities and Towns)
9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
8. Calgary, Alberta, Canada (jumps up two places since last year)
7. Chicago, Illinois
6. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5. Albuquerque, New Mexico
4. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
3. New Orleans, Louisiana (joins Big Cities list after previously being No. 1 in Smaller Cities and Towns)
2. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (jumps up four places since last year)
1. Atlanta, Georgia (jumps up two places since last year to return to No. 1 for the first time since 2018)


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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