Montana State University

MSU is big factor in Bozeman's selection of best towns for filmmakers list

February 3, 2014

Film students working on class production. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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Montana State University's Master's of Fine Arts degree in Science and Natural History Filmmaking was a big reason that MovieMaker magazine named Bozeman as one of the best town's in the country to live and work as a moviemaker.

Bozeman was ranked the number four town (population100,000 and under) in the country to live and work as a filmmaker in the magazine's winter 2014 issue. MSU's location in Bozeman was a prime factor in the selection.

"Home to Montana State University, with the world’s first ever MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, Bozeman is nature’s playground for moviemaking," the magazine wrote about Bozeman.

"With its unrivaled scenery, recreational offerings, low cost of living, and low unemployment, it consistently ranks as one of the most livable places in the country by National Geographic and CNN, and is home to Montana’s largest airport."

The magazine ranked cities and towns in three categories: towns less than 100,000 (Bozeman's category), small cities of populations ranging from 100,000-500,000 and large cities.

Other towns that were ranked were: Asheville, N.C., #1; Ashland, Ore., #2; Boulder, Colo., #3; Marfa, Texas, #5.

Cities that were ranked in the best big city category for filmmaking were (in order with top first): Chicago, New York, Austin, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Portland, Memphis and San Francisco.

Ranked small cities, in order beginning at number one, included: New Orleans, Wilmington, N.C., Shreveport, La., Providence, R.I. and Savannah, Ga.

The magazine also quoted Mark Vargo, an MSU graduate from the School who is a director of photography (DP) in Hollywood, about Bozeman's charms.

"As a DP, the natural light in the northern latitudes is exceptional,” said Vargo. “The summer clouds are extraordinary, there are long days and a magic hour that goes on and on, making for productive days on set. There aren’t too many jets around here, either, so contrails aren’t much of an issue when shooting westerns.”

"Sounds like you either go Big Sky or go home," the magazine quipped.

MovieMaker also noted that Bozeman was the fictional site of the Earth's first encounter with an alien species in "Star Trek: First Contact."

Dennis Aig, director of MSU's School of Film and Photography, said the ranking "recognizes MSU's key contributions to the film industry. Just as Stanford inspires and nurtures Silicon Valley, MSU provides the talent and entrepreneurial energy needed for professional filmmaking in Bozeman and throughout Montana."

To learn more about the ranking go to:

To learn more about the MSU School of Film and Photography and the MFA in Science and Natural Filmmaking, go to:


Dennis Aig (406) 994-7588,