Reality TV Emerges as the Season’s Primary Production Driver
FilmLA, partner film office for the City and County of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions – today issued an update regarding regional filming activity.
FilmLA’s new report reveals the full effect of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA work actions on summer film and television production in Los Angeles. Local on-location film production declined in the third quarter, with 5,311 Shoot Days (SD)* logged for a -41.4 percent decline against 2022 levels. The contract disputes were not the sole cause of the downward trend as overall, on-location filming in the region has declined for seven consecutive calendar quarters.
“Sobering as these statistics are, production numbers are not the ultimate testimony of the importance of this industry to our region. There’s a deeper testimony that comes to us through stories of families, businesses, lives, and jobs affected by the present downturn,” noted FilmLA president Paul Audley.
Unsurprisingly, the steepest losses came from the near complete shutdown of scripted television production in May. TV Drama production dropped -99.0 percent from July through September (12 SD in 2023 vs. 1,198 SD in 2022), and TV Comedy production dropped -99.4 percent (2 SD vs. 352 SD). No filming took place by projects qualifying for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, and no TV Pilot filming occurred.
Feature film production also dropped steeply, with a -54.6 percent decrease in the third quarter (376 SD vs. 828 SD). Most Feature projects in production this summer were smaller, independent productions, among a few moving forward under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements. Projects included Adult Best Friends, Don’t Trip, Eyes in the Trees, From Ashes, Isaac, Lake George, Roses on the Vine, and Who Says You Can’t Go Home. As in the Television categories, no recent Features in production were associated with the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program.
Reality TV, which declined -23.2 percent year-over-year for the quarter (2,166 SD vs. 2,824 SD), also easily emerged as the region’s primary production driver. Approximately 97.3 percent of all Television filming for the period came from reality series. Viewed another way, Reality TV comprised 40.8 percent of all on-location filming that occurred. Local TV Reality productions included Basketball Wives, Bite Stop, Dress My Tour, Real Murders of Los Angeles, Side Hustlers and Vanderpump Rules.
Commercial production continued its decline last quarter with a -25.8 percent year-over-year drop to 758 SD. Though Commercial production is not directly affected by recent industry strikes, loss of production to rival jurisdictions is an ongoing concern. Production output in this category was down -42.7 percent compared to its five-year quarterly average. Commercials that shot locally last quarter included spots for popular dining brands Chili’s, Chipotle, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jimmy John’s, McDonalds, Panera Bread, and Pizza Hut and Starbucks.
FilmLA’s “Other” category, which aggregates smaller shoots such as Still Photography, Student Films, Documentaries, Music and Industrial Videos and other projects, declined -29.8 percent (to 1,952 SD).
With a look toward the future, Audley said, “We take encouragement from the recent successes achieved by the WGA and AMPTP at the negotiating table. When remaining talks conclude and production returns under mutually agreeable terms, that will be welcome to us all.”
Notes on This Report
* 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’s reported five-year average excludes 2020, which due to the significant impact of COVID-19 on production that year, distorts all historical comparisons.
FILML.A., INC® is a not-for-profit organization and the official film office of the City and County of Los Angeles, among an ever-increasing roster of local municipalities. Through expedited permit processing, comprehensive community relations, film policy analysis and other services, FilmLA works to streamline and enhance the on-location filmmaking process for communities and content creators, to ensure the Greater Los Angeles economy continues to thrive.
Integral to FilmLA’s work is ongoing research into the benefits that local filming brings to the Los Angeles region. To that end, we maintain an internal research division devoted to the production, collection and dissemination of information regarding the U.S. film production economy and global production trends.
Provided you cite FilmLA as your source, you are welcome to use all information, charts, graphs, etc. that appear in our reports.