On-Location Production Activity Falls in First Quarter

FilmLANews Releases, Research

Q1 2023 Los Angeles Area Filming Research Report

FilmLA, partner film office for the City and County of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions – today issued an update regarding regional filming activity.

Local on-location film production declined in the first quarter of 2023, mustering 7,476 Shoot Days (SD)* to finish -24.0 percent behind Q1 2022 (with 9,832 SD) and -16.8 percent below the region’s five-year Q1 average.** The post-COVID production surge seen at this time last year was nowhere to be found in early 2023, according to the latest report.

Over three consecutive quarters, we’ve seen a significant slowdown across all of the most economically important categories of on-location production.FilmLA President Paul Audley

“Over three consecutive quarters, we’ve seen a significant slowdown across all of the most economically important categories of on-location production,” noted FilmLA President Paul Audley. “Particularly in the television world, decisions about future content direction are on hold, pending the outcome of corporate restructuring actions and industry labor negotiations.”

Television, which was a sustaining force during the region’s recovery from COVID-related impacts, posted the largest quarterly decline among the major production categories, falling -35.8 percent to a total of 2,868 SD. This figure was also -24.2 percent below the category’s five-year quarterly average.

Looking at the sub-genres of Television production, TV Dramas were down -40.4 percent compared to the previous year, declining from 1,279 to 762 SD. TV Dramas that shot in the region last quarter included The Company You Keep (ABC), All American (The CW), Mayans MC (FX), The Sympathizer (HBO), Presumed Innocent (Apple TV+) and Interior Chinatown (Hulu). A total of 186 of the 762 TV Drama SD – 24.4 percent – were from projects enrolled in the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program.

TV Reality production, which also performed well during the recovery period, fell -37.8 percent in Q1 (1,617 SD vs. 2600 SD), however, production levels in this category hover 17.4 percent above the five-year average. TV Pilots, produced far less often in an age of direct-to-series orders, generated just 7 Shoot Days for the quarter – a -88.3 decline from the previous year, and a -95.4 percent below the five-year average.

TV Sitcoms posted the highest year-over-year increase of any television category last quarter, increasing to 324 SD from 259 SD. Despite this 25.1 percent increase, the category remained -22.1 percent below the five-year average. TV sitcoms that filmed locally last quarter included American Auto (NBC), Young Sheldon (CBS), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX), Killing it (Peacock), and This Fool (Hulu). A total of 12 out of the 186 TV sitcom SD – 3.7 percent – were recipients of the California Film & Television Tax Credit.

The Feature Film category remained flat for the quarter – 595 SD in 2023 vs. 594 SD in 2022 – but was down -13.1 percent from the five-year average. A total of 99 SD – 16.6 percent of Feature production – was tied to the state’s film incentive. Local productions included Unicorn (Apple Studios), Fast X (Universal Pictures), Black Girl, Erupted (BET Her), On Swift Horses (independent), Stealing Pulp Fiction (independent) and Wishing Well (independent).

Commercial production continued its decline last quarter with a -22.5 percent drop compared to last year (to 899 SD), and an even steeper -32.5 percent compared to its five-year average. Companies such as Ally Bank, Chevron and Walmart recently filmed spots locally, as did car companies such as BMW, Dodge, Ford, Genesis, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Volvo.

The Other category, which included still photography shoots, student films, music videos and all other miscellaneous production categories was down by -13.7 percent compared to last year with 3,114 SD and -1.6 percent compared to its five-year average.

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.

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About FilmlA

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.

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