Jefferson Cowie’s Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor has a great cover by Two Dogs Design. The Cowie cover (more specifically, the map, by Cowie) also appears – without the path!? – on page 3 in the introduction, and tells the story that Cowie delves into with (I can’t believe I’m saying this in earnest) beautiful simplicity. The quest for cheap labor took them from Camden NJ to Bloomington IN to, very briefly, Memphis TN, and then finally to Ciudad Juarez Mexico.

What would a map of Hollywood runaway productions look like? It would have multiple routes out of town. Moving north: Hollywood North British Columbia and Eastern City stand-in Toronto. Moving way way east: Spain had a good run as a location from the 50s through, to an extent, nearly the 70s. Moving south: New Zealand, thanks to the generosity of John Key with our tax money, offers plenty of cheap-via-exchange-rate opportunities, with the special added bonus of union busting thrown in because that’s what the hobbits would have wanted. Within the USA, tax incentives in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Georgia draw their fair share of runaways.

Some quick examples: Rumble in the Bronx is perhaps the most glorious example of Vancouver shooting – the Bronx with mountains in the background. Blues Brothers 2000 is one of many films in which Toronto plays Chicago (My Big Fat Greek Wedding is another).

But I’m not interested in those movies, mostly because there’s been some attention to runaway production. What I really want to know is where the movies from the same time period that weren’t runaway productions are set. Do runaway productions necessitate a different geographical imagination? What forms does it take?

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