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No joke: Magazine puts L.A. near the top of film-friendly cities for indie auteurs

January 21, 2010 |  1:44 pm

This one will come as a stunner to local film industry promoters.

In the who-would've-thought category, MovieMaker magazine has ranked L.A. as the second among 10 of the best cities in the country for independent filmmakers.

In its 10th annual compilation, which takes into account such factors as cost of living, access to talent and film incentives, the New York magazine listed L.A. right behind Albuquerque and ahead of Shreveport, La.; Austin, Texas; New York; Boston; and Detroit; with Seattle coming in 10th.

This despite the fact that Los Angeles has just weathered its steepest drop in on-location filming since tracking began. In fact, the downturn was so bad city officials have been grappling with various strategies to keep Hollywood closer to home.

MovieMaker acknowledged its placement of L.A. was, to say the least, "noteworthy."  In a statement, the magazine noted that in the past the "city had dropped from the rankings altogether due to its lack of financial incentives for filmmakers,"  but suggested L.A.'s fortunes had turned due to a new state film tax incentive program.

"Thanks to its $100 million allocation for tax credits for moviemakers, including $10 million for indies, the city of Angels has returned, placing in the second spot, " the magazine added.

Since California's film tax incentive debuted this summer, the state has allocated tax credits for 60 projects, many of which have begun filming in L.A. Still, many in the production community have complained the incentives are too little, too late to be a game changer for L.A.

Maybe so, but the good publicity can't hurt.

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: An extra in the production of "The Soloist" walks past movie lights during a location shoot at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on March 20, 2008. Credit: Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press