The River City, Barbecue Pork Capital of the World, Bluff City, Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll and, of course, the Home of the Blues can now add another nickname to the list: Moviemaking Mecca.
Recently, our great city of Memphis ranked as one of the top 15 Best Places to Work and Live as a Moviemaker. The study on filming locations showed that Memphis attracted 119 client projects in 2017, nearly doubling its number of network series, which resulted in 983 reported jobs. Sounds like a win-win! Not only does our city provide the perfect background for the big screen, our very own Memphians and local businesses benefit from these productions. But, hey, this is Memphis. We’re not surprised. We’re changing the world, whether onscreen or in our own backyard. If you’re curious what the fuss is all about, just take a look.
Empowering. Soul-filled. Diverse. These are just a few words to describe the vibe that has attracted so many to Memphis, but what awards us the spotlight for a top filming location? Ask a Memphian and the list will be endless. As for moviemakers, the lure starts with our “infectious Southern vibrancy” and extends to:
Memphis’ unique location as the border city of three states offers moviemakers a wide array of nearby landscapes, ranging from downtown Memphis to the Delta Mississippi.
The diverse geography showcases Memphis, but can also be transformative when moviemakers need to emulate the streets of Chicago or the neighborhoods of Cape Cod.
When it comes to cast and crew, moviemakers can’t get enough of who Memphis has to offer.
Since Tennessee is a right-to-work state, there are plenty of talented Memphians who thrive in all parts of the movie production process. Moreover, moviemakers have an abundance of casting opportunities, as creative and theatrical professionals live and act all over the city. Look no further than the Orpheum Theatre, the University of Memphis’ theatre program and more.
We owe a lot of praise to the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission. Thanks to its unwavering support and accommodating qualities, moviemakers have had a hard time passing up filming in the River City. In fact, these benefits led the five-time Academy Award-nominated film “Walk the Line” to shoot in Memphis over Louisiana.
Once confirming their filming location, producers have the freedom to choose from a number of public facilities at no cost, including schools, the Shelby County Courthouse and the more than 14,000-acre Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.
Our city’s Film Commission then goes overboard to ensure that the entire cast and crew has reservations at local hotels, and continues to handle extensions and other accommodations upon arrival.
Travel and transport
When you’re on a tight deadline and hours and days mean thousands of dollars, time is everything. With this in mind, you can’t blame producers for choosing Memphis! The nonstop flights to Los Angeles and New York relieve a lot of the headaches and wasted time of layovers.
People aren’t the only things needing quick transport during crunch time! When a package needs to be overnighted to Memphis, nearby FedEx International works hard to get items delivered, staying open until almost midnight. After all, we all know what a relief it is when your package arrives on time.
The sounds of Memphis
Last but not by any means least, the music roots that grow and gather throughout our city capture the attention of moviemakers looking to cast musical roles and to create iconic, award-winning motion-picture soundtracks.
Made in Memphis
From indie films to Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winners, beloved movies of all genres have featured the iconic streets of Memphis. Luckily, you don’t have to be part of the cast and crew to see these locales up close. Whether you’re in town for a quick business trip, taking it easy on a Saturday afternoon or visiting to soak up the city’s soul and sounds, follow in the footsteps of some of your favorite actors and actresses throughout our city.
While you can always count on Beale Street as a path where legends walk, don’t forget to check out Memphis’ motion-picture moments at other unique spots, including:
- Schwab: “Mystery Train”
- An alley near The Rendezvous restaurant: “Great Balls of Fire”
- Bozo’s Hot Pit Barbeque: “Walk the Line”
- The Butcher Shoppe Steakhouse: “The Rainmaker”
- Central Gardens Neighborhood: “21 Grams”
- Commercial Appeal: “Nothing But the Truth”
- Earnestine & Hazel’s: “21 Grams”
- FedEx International Hub: “Cast Away”
- Graceland: “Great Balls of Fire”
- Jerry’s Snow Cones: “Great Balls of Fire”
- Orpheum Theatre: “Great Balls of Fire” and “Walk the Line”
- Peabody Hotel’s Ballroom: “The Rainmaker”
- Peabody Hotel’s Chez Philippe: “The Client”
- The Pipkin Building at the Memphis Fairgrounds: “Walk the Line”
- Riverside Drive: “The Firm”
- Shelby County Courthouse: “Silence of the Lambs”
- South Main: “Great Balls of Fire,” “Mystery Train,” “Walk the Line”
- Sun Studios: “Great Balls of Fire,” “Mystery Train,” “Walk the Line”
- The Arcade Restaurant: “The Client,” “Mystery Train,” “The Rainmaker”
- The Shrine Building: “The Firm”
- Westy’s: “The Rainmaker”
This is only a portion of some of our city’s most memorable moviemaking landmarks, and as Linn Sitler of the Memphis Film Commission noted, Memphis’ onscreen appearances don’t start or end with movies: “Even in years with major feature films, TV has always been our meat and potatoes.” If you’ve been binge-watching “This Is Us,” you’ve probably spotted our soulful city in some scenes!
Becoming one of the top filming locations for moviemaking is just one of the reasons why the world is quickly falling for the inescapable attraction of Memphis. Don’t be surprised if you keep seeing us on the big screen!