LA On-Location Production Falls in Third Quarter, Employment Outlook Remains Positive

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Overall on-location filming in Greater Los Angeles declined 5.2 percent from July through September, according to new data published today by FilmLA. In all, 9,226 Shoot Days (SD)* were logged during the period.

And while the third quarter of 2018 saw local filming attain near-record highs, the same period this year delivered declines in on-location feature film, television and commercial production. Only the TV Comedy category and “Other**” category posted significant gains. FilmLA researchers characterized the report as atypical, and unusually at odds with other production indicators and local employment trends.

In FilmLA’s Television category, TV Comedy production increased 45.6 percent to 754 SD during the third quarter. TV Drama production declined for the first time this year, slipping 28.6 percent to 1,069 SD. TV Pilots (down 19.2 percent to 63 SD), Web-Based TV (down 8.7 percent to 346 SD) and TV Reality (down 6.7 percent to 1,051) also saw cuts.

“Given what we know about the LA production scene, the Q3 report omits much of the story,” observed Paul Audley, FilmLA President. “Earlier this month, our research group published a report revealing LA’s significant capture of the scripted television production market. Meanwhile, union officials assure us there are ample work opportunities for local crews. We can only surmise that there is significant filming confined to area sound stages, or taking place in adjoining cities where the activity is not tracked.”

However under-representative the Q-3 figures may be, within the data it remains easy to see the positive impact of the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program. In the third quarter of 2019, more than four out of every ten TV Drama Shoot Days (435 SD in total) came from incentivized series. A sampling of recent incentivized projects includes American Horror Story: 1984, Good Girls, Good Trouble, Lucifer, Mayans MC, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, Perry Mason, Star Trek: Picard, S.W.A.T., The Rookie, This is Us, Westworld and Why Women Kill.

Feature film production, which has generally struggled in 2019, dropped 24.7 percent to 980 SD. Film projects brought to Los Angeles by California’s film incentive contributed

7.3 percent, or 72 SD, to the Feature category in the third quarter. Incentivized features recently filming in LA include Bliss, Covers, Revenge and The Little Things.

Commercial production, which has also struggled this year, trimmed its year-over-year losses to just 5 percent in the third quarter, declining to 1,330 SD.

* On-location production figures are based on days of permitted production within the jurisdictions served by FilmLA. 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. FilmLA data does not include production that occurs on certified sound stages or on-location in jurisdictions not served by FilmLA.

** FilmLA’s “other” category includes documentaries, industrial videos, music videos, still photography, student films and other miscellaneous forms of production shot on- location.

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