On-location filming in Greater Los Angeles increased 1.3 percent in in 2015 to 37,289 Shoot Days (SD)*, thanks to a rise in scripted television production and the aid of the California Film & Television Tax Credit 2.0. That was the key takeaway from FilmL.A. Research’s latest report, “2015 Production Retrospective,” released last month. The comprehensive, 19-page report is available for download on the FilmL.A. website.
Among the report’s other findings — scripted television production is again a growth industry in Los Angeles. In a year where TV Reality production fell 8.0 percent (to 5,088 SD), the overall Television category posted a 9.5 percent gain in 2015 over the previous year (to 15,706 SD) and an impressive 19.4 percent increase over the category’s 5-year rolling average. TV Drama and TV Comedy both had their best year on record for on-location filming in 2015.
Among scripted television categories, TV Dramas and TV Comedies led in overall production growth last year. TV Dramas increased 19.3 percent (to 4,374 SD) in 2015 compared to 2014. The smaller TV Comedy category increased 100.5 percent (to 2,268 SD) over the same period. Meanwhile, Web-Based TV production increased 28.3 percent (to 1,449 SD) and TV Pilot production decreased 13.9 percent (to 638 SD).
“Television’s importance to Greater Los Angeles can’t be overstated,” noted FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. “Scripted television provides long-term job opportunities and high economic value, so these increases should be celebrated.”
Indeed, the economic impact of scripted television series, particularly Dramas, rivals that of large features. For example, HBO’s forthcoming series Westworld is spending an estimated $88 million on its first season. Other Drama series like Major Crimes, Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD all carry season budgets in excess of $60 million.
Once again, the impact of the California Film & Television Tax Credit was evident in the numbers reported by FilmL.A. Incentive-qualified Television projects generated 7.2 percent (1,130 SD) of local on-location Television production in 2015. Within select Television subcategories the incentive’s effect was more pronounced. Incentivized production made up 20.3 percent (887 SD) of the TV Drama category, 8.4 percent (190 SD) of the TV Sitcom category, and 8.3 percent (53 SD) of the TV Pilots category.
Local on-location Feature production decreased 4.2 percent (to 4,344 SD) in 2015, though the category began to perk up in the fourth quarter thanks to state-incentivized projects. Between October and December, 2015, five state-incentivized Feature projects got underway in Los Angeles (CHiPs, The Conjuring 2, Rebirth, The Sentence and The Disaster Artist), registering 101 SD, and accounting for 9.4 percent of total Feature production for the quarter.
“The California film tax credit is delivering positive results for the industry and in particular for the heart and soul of movies and television — the people who swing hammers, run cable and serve food on set to keep our local economy moving,” said Mayor Garcetti. “We are fighting back against runaway production – and winning! And if a project doesn’t qualify for the credit, City Hall is doing everything it can to ensure that LA is the production capital of the world. Our film and television industry is the lifeblood of Los Angeles’ middle class, and now production is coming back to where it belongs.”
Commercial production stayed flat in Los Angeles last year, with the category posting a negligible 0.2 percent growth (to 5,201 SD). Nonetheless, the Commercials industry remains a major production driver in the Greater Los Angeles Region. For four straight years, Commercials have produced more on-location Shoot Days per year than Feature films.
“Los Angeles County has been proud to work with FilmL.A. to improve cooperation and develop consistent practices for our 88 cities,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. “Our efforts, coupled with important state incentives, allow us to compete for this critical business, which brings our region thousands of good jobs and billions of dollars to our economy.”
* On-location production figures are based on days of permitted production within the jurisdictions served by FilmL.A. One “Shoot Day” (or “SD”) is defined as one crew’s permission to film at one or more defined locations during all or part of any given 24‐hour period. This measure determines how many days of work film crews perform during a given time period. FilmL.A. data does not include production that occurs on certified sound stages or on-location in jurisdictions not served by FilmL.A.