Pencils Down, Production Plummets in Year’s Second Quarter

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2023 Q2 Los Angeles Area Filming Research Report

Industry Supply Chain Impacts Follow Loss of Scripted Production

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 second quarter of 2023, mustering 6,566 Shoot Days (SD)* to finish down -28.8 percent for the quarter, measured year over year. This marks the sixth consecutive quarterly production drop reported by FilmLA. The drop was accelerated by the ongoing WGA labor action, which began in May. SAG-AFTRA members were not yet on strike at the time this data was captured.

Greater Los Angeles is the North American epicenter of scripted television production. Before long, this sector’s shutdown will be felt in every corner of the regional economy.FilmLA President Paul Audley

“Greater Los Angeles is the North American epicenter of scripted television production. Before long, this sector’s shutdown will be felt in every corner of the regional economy,” observed FilmLA President Paul Audley.

“Like all others watching with hope from the sidelines, we are eager to see the studios and unions reopen their contract negotiations,” Audley continued. “Much is at stake for WGA and SAG-AFTRA members, and also for the small business supply chain on which future filming depends.”

Feature film production fell -18.9 percent in the second quarter to 728 SD, -26.6 percent below the category’s five-year average. Nearly all Feature projects in production from April through June were smaller, independent productions. Titles included All That We Love, Father & Son, Goodrich, The Puritan II and Unicorn. A total of 23 of the 728 SD – or 3.2 percent of total Feature production – came from projects associated with the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program.

Commercial production continued its decline last quarter with a -22.4 percent year-over-year drop to 861 SD. Though Commercial production is not directly affected by the present WGA or SAG-AFTRA labor actions, loss of production to rival jurisdictions is an ongoing concern. Production output in this category is down -37.8 percent compared to its five-year quarterly average. Automobile commercials that shot locally last quarter included spots for Acura, BMW, Ford, Mini Cooper, Subaru and Toyota, in addition to companies like AT&T, Delta Airlines, Paycom and Verizon.

The aggregate Television category, which has long been a major employment driver in the region, saw the steepest quarterly decline (-36.4 percent to 2,630 SD), reflecting the impact of the recent WGA strike.

Recorded Shoot Days generated by TV Dramas fell by -63.8 percent (to 360 SD) in the second quarter, and TV Comedy Shoot Days fell by -72.8 percent (to 84 SD) compared to the same period in 2022. These are the categories most heavily impacted by the ongoing WGA work action. Viewed in a different way, TV Dramas declined by -52.8 percent for April-June of 2023, as compared with January-March. TV Comedies dropped -72.8 percent, using that same approach.

Before the halt of all scripted television production in Greater Los Angeles, productions filming last quarter included Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), S.W.A.T. (CBS), The Old Man (FX), Good Trouble (Freeform), Interior Chinatown (Hulu), and How to be a Bookie (HBO Max). A total of 89 TV Drama SDs – or 24.7 percent of the total output – came from projects associated with the state’s film tax credit.

Unscripted Television production is doing better, by comparison. TV Reality production dropped -22.9 percent (to 2,013 SD) in the second quarter, compared to the prior year.  Nonetheless the category is still up 26.5 percent over its five-year quarterly average, and TV Reality production rose 24.5 percent from April-June 2023 compared to Jan-March. Local TV Reality productions included American Idol (ABC), Basketball Wives (VH1), The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Bravo!), Buying Beverly Hills (Netflix) and Selling Sunset (Netflix).

FilmLA’s “Other” category, which aggregates smaller shoots such as Still Photography, Student Films, Documentaries, Music and Industrial Videos and other projects, declined -23.7 percent (to 2,347 SD).

“The last time production levels were this low, we were in the middle of a global pandemic,” Audley observed. “Families and businesses affected then are again being tested today, lending urgency to the moment to sustain creative careers.”

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.

Provided you cite FilmLA as your source, you are welcome to use all information, charts, graphs, etc. that appear in our reports.

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