This is L.A. Nearly everyone knows someone who wants to “make it” in showbiz — as a singer, actor, writer, director, etc. But there are numerous local businesses that serve the entertainment industry that are also trying to “make it” — by keeping their doors open and staff employed, as the struggling economy and the flight of the industry to out-of-state locales take their toll.
The filmed entertainment industry is a uniquely decentralized community of small businesses and entrepreneurs. According to a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) study, the industry is comprised of more than 115,000 businesses nationwide, 81 percent of which employ fewer than 10 people.
These small businesses are vital to the local area economy. Entertainment is the third largest industry in L.A. County. A 2008 Los Angeles Economy and Jobs Committee report identified 129,728 jobs directly involved in the industry countywide. For each of these, there are 2.7 jobs supported by the industry, which has an annual economic impact of $57 billion for the region.
FilmL.A.’s quarterly and year-to-date location production figures (see story above) substantiate the drop in business borne out by so many anecdotal stories. We’ve seen ample media recently about the decline of filming locally and the resulting impact on workers and businesses, such as 20th Century Props, one of the larger prop houses, which was driven out of business after forty years.
The props house is, sadly, not an isolated case. According to FilmL.A. President Paul Audley, “The closure is symptomatic of the challenges facing numerous entertainment-related businesses struggling to survive as other states and countries build their own studio, crew and support-business infrastructures.”
Ted Moser, owner of L.A.-based Picture Car Warehouse, which supplies police cars, period cars, muscle cars and other custom-built vehicles to film and TV productions such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, Rush Hour 3 and The Bucket List, has felt the impact of the industry’s downturn.
Moser has managed to retain all 22 of his employees, though it hasn’t been easy.
“My business is off 40 percent over the last two years,” Moser said. “There’s not much work here. I’m shipping a lot more vehicles to places like Shreveport and Boston, where the filming is.”