Season of Strikes Leaves LA Filming Near Lowest-Ever Levels

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FilmLA 2023 Q4 YTD Film Production 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.

The conclusion of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA work actions on September 27 and November 9, respectively, came too late for production to pick up by year’s end. Local on-location filming declined steeply in the fourth quarter, with 5,520 Shoot Days (SD)* logged for a -36.4 percent decline against the same period in 2022.

Viewed on an annual basis, summing four consecutive quarters of double-digit decline, production activity fell -32.4 percent year-over-year in 2023, to 24,873 SD.

“History offers no point of comparison to the present,” observed FilmLA President Paul Audley. “The pandemic year aside, we have to look very far back – farther back than permit records allow – to find a time when production levels stayed so low, for so long.”

“Everyone we are speaking to is eager to see production resume,” Audley added, “Even as it does, we’ll remain in uncharted territory. We have months to go before we can describe what the new normal looks like for filming in LA.”

After the near immediate return of some programming, including late night talk shows, in October, many hoped scripted television might return before the holidays. Once able to resume filming in November, only a handful of continuing series attempted new episodes. That left Television production down -54.3 percent to 1,707 SD for the quarter, and down 43.8 percent to 9,430 SD for the year.

Most Television production that has taken place since May came from reality series. The Reality TV category was down -29.2 percent in the fourth quarter to 1,425 SD and down -28.1 percent to 7,221 SD for the year. Nonetheless, Reality TV comprised 76.5 percent of all on-location Television production in 2023. Local reality productions included Dancing with the Stars (ABC), Death in the Dorms (Hulu), Master Chef (Fox), Selling Sunset (Netflix) and Murder in the Heartland (Investigation Discovery).

TV Drama production dropped -91.3 percent from October through December (101 SD in 2023 vs. 1,155 SD in 2022), and TV Comedy production dropped -85.6 percent (51 SD vs. 353 SD). During that time, projects qualifying for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program logged 25 SD. Dozens more qualified projects are expected to restart in January. The shows quickest to return to production included Loot (Apple TV+), The Family Business (BET+), Quantum Leap (NBC), The Rookie (ABC), S.W.A.T. (CBS), and Unstable (Netflix).

Feature film production also dropped steeply last quarter, with a -57.5 percent decrease to 323 SD. Most Feature projects in production this summer were smaller, independent productions, among a few moving forward under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements. Three independent Features in production last quarter were associated with the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program; the films Hurricana, Shell and Starstruck together generated a total of 28 SD.

Unaffected by the strikes but trending lower due to runway production, filming for web and television Commercials slipped last quarter with a -9.9 percent year-over-year drop to 746 SD. Commercials made in LA included automobile ads for BMW, Chevy, Honda, Lincoln, Nissan and Toyota. Retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Walgreens also shot spots locally.   

FilmLA’s “Other” category, which aggregates smaller, lower-cost shoots such as Still Photography, Student Films, Documentaries, Music and Industrial Videos and other projects, declined -18.1 percent (to 2,744 SD) for the quarter and -20.7 percent (to 10,157 SD) for the year.

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.

** 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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