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The Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2024

January 18, 2024


El Paso is a perfect example of a welcoming city where you can afford to make your own films with like-minded collaborators. Located along the U.S.-Mexican border, across from Ciudad Juarez, this thriving West Texas metropolis is joining our list for the first time thanks to a fast-growing community with an emphasis on experimentation.

“What I see in El Paso is common to what happened in Austin back in the late ’80s, early ’90s,” Troublemaker Studios co-founder Elizabeth Avellán, producer of the Sin City and Spy Kids franchises, said at the El Paso Film Festival in September. “You’re investing in yourselves and you’re investing in each other. This community has that ability, and it’s already doing it, and the people are wonderful.”

The financials help — the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program offers a rebate of up to 22.5%. According to the state, it is a “cash grant based on a percentage of a project’s eligible Texas expenditures, including eligible wages paid to Texas residents,” and the amount varies by “budget levels and types of productions.” Additionally, El Paso’s cost of living is well below the national average, and so are filmmaking costs.

You can choose from a wide range of production facilities like Cheeky Monkey Post and Rio Bravo Post. The quality of life adds up, too: El Paso is safer than the national average, the architecture is striking, the natural beauty all around is inspiring, and the cross-cultural pollination is intoxicating. You will not find better Mexican food in the United States.

Local DIY filmmakers include Old Man director Lucky McKee, who recently helmed an episode of Rian Johnson’s Poker Face, and Charles Horak, who runs a spectacular converted warehouse/soundstage called the Rio Bravo Outpost that also provides working space to talents like Carlos F. Corral, artistic director of the El Paso Film Festival and founder of MindWarp Films, a collective of filmmakers that has worked with companies from Apple to Netflix.

Notable Film Festival: El Paso Film Festival

The festival goes hard for Texas filmmakers, including locals like Ralph Gonzalez, whose low-budget, impressive sci-fi short “Nova” was a standout, and Zach Passero, who spent nearly a decade making his wild ’80s throwback animated horror comedy The Weird Kidz, which won him the director’s award.