Moving to the big city to pursue your dreams can be intimidating.

As a young filmmaker, making a big move can make or break your career. Five reasons to move to a big city are for networking, more capital, collaborators, ease of access, and events and screenings.

1) Networking

Networking is by far the most important part of getting involved in the film industry. As the old saying goes, it isn’t about what you know but who you know. When you ask a filmmaker why they moved to a big city, they will probably tell you it was to expand their network. While it isn’t impossible to build your network when you aren’t located in a city, there is a certain critical mass of people working in the film industry that makes a city so helpful for networking.

Many industry companies such as RED Digital Cinema, KitSplit, and AbelCine will host networking events that you can attend to meet up with other filmmakers. There are also a plethora of other ways to meet new connections like on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. There’s even an app for that! Shapr is a tinder-style networking app that lets you network and make new friends.

If you spend time building your network, this can lead to a lot more work since the majority of jobs are not posted in public groups but are hired for by friends and colleagues.

Again, it isn’t about what you know but who you know.

Read: 3 Networking Tips For Young Filmmakers

2) More Capital

With bigger cities come bigger budgets. Working in live events outside of major cities (filming or photographing weddings, for example) can be a good source of income. It’s not unusual to find people who make plenty of money in that line of film work to sustain a decent livelihood. If you want to make the next Avengers film though, you’re going to need a lot more money and not just money for you.

Big films require big budgets. Cities are where the investors and their capital tend to congregate. In New York City alone, about $12.5 billion has been spent in the film industry and “counties outside of the metropolitan area received only a 9-cent return for every $1 invested in the production credit” according to Crain’s New York Business. Most of the spending was in the city itself. The reason we need larger budgets is primarily so we can have better collaborators. 

3) Collaborators

Looking at the credits for a big-budget film can be dizzying. Different positions on a film production vary from the line producer to gaffer to cinematographer. They all contribute a piece to the quality and efficiency of the production. When you go out and make a film, you’ll find that it is much easier to create something with substance if you have a larger crew. Of course larger crews don’t always directly correlate with higher production quality—we can see this in absolutely awful movies like The Room.

It is possible to make a really fantastic film on a small budget by calling in a lot of favors, but money will get you farther when it comes to hiring. Not only will you be able to pay your friends, you can get better locations, get rights to more music, afford better equipment, etc.

4) Ease of Access

Being in a city means everything is compact. You’ll feel this if when you have to move in to a 756 sq. ft. room with three roommates just to be able to make rent. Close proximity means less travel time though and getting from your apartment to the film set may mean walking just a few blocks or traveling on the subway a few stops instead of driving 50+ miles.

Traveling via the subway is also great because you’ll have the ability to work on projects as the train travels since you don’t have to drive.

5) Events & Screenings

Screenslate is one of my favorite online filmmaking resources while living in New York City. A daily email is sent out with that day’s screenings in the city and showtimes. This is so awesome because they include a lot of classic film screenings like a 35mm screening of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. Being able to watch movies like this—for example, seeing an original print of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—can be really incredible film education. In addition to film education, you’ll be able to view the latest indie films that you see mentioned and written about on the Internet but would never be able to view in a small-town theater.

There are also so many events that happen in big cities and many of them are free. Lots of great networking events exist along with important industry events like NAB Show NY.

Happy Filming!

-Jon

A man clapping a film slate on a film set

Read: How To Start Breaking Onto The Film Scene


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