For our local film production professionals, the first quarter of 2009 was a tough time to find work on feature films or commercial projects in Los Angeles. As FilmL.A. on April 14, 2009, on-location feature film and commercial production levels experienced drastic year-over-year declines for the period, while television production misleadingly appeared to soar compared to the strike-affected first quarter of 2008.
On the heels of the Feature category’s historic lows in 2008, feature film production plummeted even further in the first quarter of 2009. Logging only 903 PPD (permitted production days), the Feature category posted its lowest quarterly tally since tracking began in 1993. As an indicator of the flight of feature films from the L.A. region, student films (at 900 PPD) matched feature film production during the same period.
Commercial production declined 34.2 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008 (1,266 PPD vs. 1,925). Commercial production, a bellwether of the coming recession, had also posted weak results early in 2008.
Television production continues to drive the local filmed entertainment industry, constituting more than half of all on-location production coordinated by FilmL.A. Overall on-location television production soared 76.4 percent in the first quarter compared to 2008, a roller-coaster effect attributable to last year’s writers strike, during which scripted programming was virtually non-existent.
Propped up by television, total on-location production coordinated by FilmL.A. during the first quarter of 2009 was flat compared to the same period in 2008 – a negligible increase of 0.7 percent. In all, 11,431 PPD were logged in Q1 2009, up from 11,357 PPD in Q1 2008.