‘It feels so undiscovered’: Why Kansas City is a top 10 small city for making movies
Kansas City is one of the best places for a filmmaker, according to an analysis by Moviemaker.com.
“It feels so undiscovered,” actor and filmmaker David Dastmalchian, a Shawnee Mission South grad, told the industry magazine in its February issue.
It also doesn’t hurt that the city has a film development office that offers a financial incentive for films shot locally.
Dastmalchian, who has appeared in “The Dark Knight” and “Ant-Man,” shot 95 percent of his own original story “All Creatures Here Below” (2017) in Kansas City. It was also the first film to receive a rebate — $60,000 — from the film office.
“Kansas City isn’t just where I’m from, it’s the most vibrant cross-section of the Midwest that I’ve found, both visually and socially,” Dastmalchian said.
In fact, Kansas City is the only Midwestern city on MovieMaker’s list of the 10 best “small cities and towns” to live and work in as a filmmaker. KC landed at No. 8.
Savannah, Ga., was first, followed by New Orleans, Santa Fe, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Ashland, Ore., and Knoxville, Tenn. Filling out the list were Providence, R.I., and Richmond, Va.
The magazine ranked Albuquerque, N.M., as the best “big” city for movie making. That city has roughly 70,000 more residents than Kansas City, but the KC metro area is more than twice the size. A call to the magazine’s office in Los Angeles to explain the methodology was not immediately returned.
Still, it’s nice to make the list.
“Being recognized is an honor and collective win for Kansas City talent — filmmakers, actors, production crew and more,” KC Film Commissioner Stephane Scupham said in a release about the designation. “We are glad the industry is taking notice of something we know and experience every day.
“Next stop: Missouri statewide film incentives. We‘re determined for our entire state to benefit from the indispensable national attention, economic impact and workforce development that this expanding industry of manufacturing entertainment creates for communities.”
Missouri has a film office but it does not provide financial incentives for production companies to come to the state. Kansas also does not provide film production incentives.
Jill Gevargizian, another Kansas City filmmaker, described to MovieMaker the “wild kindness” that Kansas City and its people offer to indie productions.
“It’s become tradition for my crew and me to have meetings and wrap parties at a dive bar that serves the best pizza,” Gevargizian said. “I’ve directed over a dozen projects and I’ve only had to pay for a couple of locations. Most owners are eager to help. I’m also a hairstylist and my clients constantly offer their homes, businesses, everything to be used in my film — KC people think movie making is rad and they want to help.”
Going back, director Ang Lee’s Civil War-era “Ride With the Devil” (1999) was filmed in the region and James Ivory’s “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” with Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman was filmed and set in Kansas City.
Dastmalchian described his reason for choosing Kansas City for “All Creatures Here Below.”
“I needed a location that had specific urban, suburban and rural landscapes and Kansas City is a fresh collection of locations and landscapes,” he told the magazine. “There is so much space, architecture and pastoral settings which haven’t been lensed by moviemakers.”