On-Location Filming Levels Inched Upward in L.A. Last Quarter

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On-location filming across all inched up just over one percent last quarter, according to a report FilmL.A. released earlier this month. Compared to the same period a year ago, last quarter saw marked slowdowns in key film production categories and underwhelming numbers for Feature, Television and Commercial production.

Production of Commercials fell sharply 7.5 percent in the second quarter of 2011 vs. the same period in the prior year (1,484 in 2011 vs. 1,604 permitted production days [PPD] in 2010). The decline follows on the heels of a 21-month surge that surprised industry experts.

Production in the Television category dropped 0.7 percent in the second quarter (4,024 vs. 4,052 PPD), led by losses in the TV Sitcoms (down 29.4 percent) and TV Reality (down 12.9 percent) subcategories. The TV Pilots subcategory was up 4.5 percent. The TV Drama subcategory (up 26.6 percent) had a surprisingly robust quarter due to heavy reliance by shows such as Hawthorne and Sons of Anarchy on uncertified soundstages for extended periods.

On-location Feature production increased 4.0 percent (1,604 vs. 1,542 PPD). Unlike every other quarter since July 2009, this past quarter the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program had only minor impact on local Feature production totals. This was not unanticipated.

In 2009/2010, the state doubled its $100m annual allocation to encourage filming in California. With less assistance available this year, only five incentivized Feature projects filmed on-location in Los Angeles this past quarter, generating 117 PPD, or 7.3 percent of overall Feature production. By comparison, the same quarter in 2010 saw 16 incentivized Feature projects shooting locally, generating 423 PPD and 27 percent of Feature production.

The incentive should again come into play as a significant factor in Feature production levels during the third quarter of this year. “We expect to see Features get a boost as a new crop of incentivized projects hits the streets,” said FilmL.A. President Paul Audley, “but a lot of the new shows you’ll see this fall won’t be filming in California. As a result, we predict a lackluster second half of the year for TV.”

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