L.A.-Based Big-Budget Features Going, Going, Gone?

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FilmL.A. Production ReportsFilmL.A.’s annual production figures for 2008 are in, and the data reveal that all is not well with L.A.’s signature industry.

Total on-location filming coordinated by FilmL.A. decreased 8.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, from 13,353 to 12,277 permitted days of production.  By year’s end, total days had dropped 1.7 percent, from 54,871 days to 53,957.

But the most troubling news was the drop in local on-location feature film production, which posted its weakest quarter ever since tracking began in 1993. The category’s year-end total (7,043 permitted production days) is also the lowest since then, amounting to just above half the number of days recorded at the category’s 1996 peak (13,980 days).

On-location production of commercials declined steeply in the fourth quarter of last year and finished the year 10.9 percent below 2007 levels.  Conversely, television production, fueled by growth in the reality genre, finished the quarter up 14.4 percent and rounded out the year up 8.4 percent.

The data reveal a changing production landscape in the region, irrespective of short-term impacts from the writers’ strike and uncertainty surrounding the actors’ contract.

“With feature film production days being down ten of the last twelve years, we should stop talking about ‘runaway production’. It’s ‘ran-away production’,” observed our president, Paul Audley.

“Until California becomes competitive in the marketplace, we cannot expect to bring these high-dollar projects back,” he added.

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