If you think you need to live in Hollywood to work in television
or movies, you haven't been paying attention to the closing credits of movies
like Twilight or Watchmen. More and more productions are being filmed outside
of the traditional center of show business. There are many jobs available,
even if you don't have a Hollywood address.
Although Hollywood has traditionally been the center of the entertainment
industry, there are a variety of reasons for production companies to look
elsewhere. Sometimes a movie or television show will film in a city other
than Hollywood because its script requires a different setting, for example.
Other times it's because it's cheaper to film somewhere else. Changes to
the film industry have resulted in production companies looking for ways to
cut costs. Moving to a cheaper location can result in a much lower budget.
In addition, technology has made it much easier for an independent filmmaker
to make a movie anywhere in the world.
In Hollywood, they're known as "runaway productions" -- those that cause
jobs in the industry to leave Tinsel Town. Members of Hollywood's Screen Actors
Guild have been protesting this trend for years.
"The exodus of projects means lost jobs for California," says Nicholas
Paleologos. He is the executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.
He believes there will be more jobs popping up outside of Hollywood in the
That means jobs for people like make-up artists, camera people, sound crews,
accountants and location managers. Key actors, directors, writers and "creative
people" often come straight from Hollywood, however.
Many film companies are even leaving the country and heading north to Canada.
"Canada still competes rather effectively with the U.S. for film and television
production," says Tracey Wood. Wood is the vice-president, industrial and
external relations, of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association
B.C. Producer's Branch.
But Paleologos says that Canadians might not have an advantage for much
"Canada had a big head start by offering generous tax credits," he says.
"For many years the U.S. dollar could buy much more in Canada. Those two factors
are changing. U.S. tax credits are more competitive. And the weak [U.S.] dollar
has levelled the playing field."
And some industry insiders say a reduction in Canadian filming has already
"Productions are still being made," says Canadian director Brian Clement.
"But from what I understand it's dried up considerably in the past few years
due to the two currencies trading at par for a long time, thus making it less
attractive financially to relocate projects to Canada from the U.S."
Jobs leaving Hollywood don't just go to Canada. Many states have set up
film boards to try to get Hollywood productions to come to their area. Paleologos's
organization, the Massachusetts Film Office, is a good example.
The film industry has grown in Massachusetts over the past 10 years. Producers
enjoy the state's countryside and college-town scenery. Some movies shot in
Massachusetts include Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Pink Panther 2 and Bride Wars.
Money is a huge factor in deciding where films are made. Places with a
lower cost of living attract film producers who want to lower their costs.
Lots of southern states don't require film producers to hire unionized production
staff. This enables producers to save money on wages.
Then there is the economy, and its ups and downs.
Although the slower economy might lead filmmakers to cheaper locations,
some people fear that a general slowdown in the entertainment industry will
work against smaller, independent movies being made outside of Hollywood.
"The economic slump that's hit has also affected things," says Clement,
"with fewer people taking financial risks on productions that aren't guaranteed
money-makers, not to mention the Internet dealing a blow to the rental industry
and especially the lower end of the direct-to-video market."
It all comes down to money. Especially during hard economic times, people
may film outside of Hollywood if the script or other factors (location of
actors, set availability) demands it.
"All things considered, for certain projects, it is simply cheaper to do
it outside Hollywood," says Paleologos.
And what about the Internet? The Internet has changed the way we do almost
everything these days, and the way films are made -- and distributed -- is
"Business is always slow to embrace change, and the movie world is being
shaken up tremendously right now with the whole digital revolution," says
"No one wants to pay for recorded music and movies any longer, so while
money can be made by musicians doing live performances or movies showing in
big theaters, the segment of the market that was direct-to-DVD is going to
have to become direct-to-download, and at a fraction of the price of the days
when DVDs were $15 to $20 each."
Clement says that because of these Internet-related changes, smaller movies
won't be making as much money.
"I think it will be more difficult in the future for smaller productions
to be economically viable," he says.
"Again, the only real upside to this is that once the smoke clears, the
few remaining no-budget moviemakers will be the ones doing it out of love
rather than money. Unfortunately, I think this also means fewer jobs in the
traditional sense of paid work in coming years outside the traditional Hollywood
One thing is certain, though: the film industry is looking at a lot of
changes that could affect everyone in the industry -- no matter where they
Massachusetts Film Office
A good example of a regional film office
Screen Actors Guild
A big voice in the industry