Fourth Quarter Filming Falls Five Percent Short

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A seasonal lift across several film production categories arrived too late to satisfy high expectations for 2019, according to new data published today by FilmLA. In several key categories – including Feature Films, TV Dramas, TV Comedies and Web-Based TV, on-location production was more robust from October through December than in any of the three quarters prior. Nonetheless, overall production slipped 5.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, to 9,839 Shoot Days.

The fourth quarter of 2019 came up short against the same period in 2018, FilmLA analysts say, in part 2018 Q4 was the most productive three-month period recorded by FilmLA in more than 25 years (totaling 10,359 SD in 2018, compared to 9,839 in 2019).

In FilmLA’s Television category, TV Comedy production increased 39.4 percent to 548 SD during the fourth quarter. Web-Based TV increased 36.0 percent to 423 SD, and TV Pilot production increased 33.3 percent to 64 SD for the period. TV Drama production declined 9.7 percent to 1,345 SD, due to fewer shows and fewer production days for recurring shows. Several major recurring series like Ballers, Legion, Strange Angel and The Affair ended production over the past two quarters. TV Reality production declined 4.4 percent in Q4 to 1,006 SD.

Overall, on-location TV Drama production – a mainstay of the LA film economy – finished the entire year 2.7 percent below 2018 levels (at 4,716 SD), but still 3.6 percent ahead of its five-year category average.

Whenever we publish new permit data, it raises similar questions: “Is the state incentive working?” some ask, and “What’s happening with runaway production?”

It’s important to remember that California is locked in a permanent competition against global rivals for film and television projects and jobs. The fact is, California’s film incentive reliably brings LA around 30 percent more TV Drama production, and around 13 percent more Feature Film production than we would have without the program. Entertainment unions are reporting ample work opportunities for local crews. Soundstage occupancy is high. These are all important considerations when evaluating the health of this business.”

Paul Audley, FilmLA President

A sampling of recent incentivized Television projects includes “American Horror Story: 1984,” “Good Girls,” “Good Trouble,” “Lucifer,” “The Orville,” “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” “The Rookie,” “This is Us,” “Untitled Lakers Project,” “Westworld” and “Why Women Kill.”

Feature film production slipped 2.4 percent to 1,052 SD in the fourth quarter compared to 2018. Nonetheless, Q4 saw Feature film production peak for 2019, as the only quarter in which production did not decline by double digits. The Features category is the third largest tracked by FilmLA, in terms of SD volume.

A sampling of recent incentivized Feature projects includes: “Mainstream” and “The Little Things.”

Commercial production, which is ineligible for incentive support, slipped 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter. The second largest production category tracked by FilmLA, Commercials struggled throughout 2019 to match 2018’s record yield.

Download the PDF of the data and graphs here.

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