On-location shooting days in Los Angeles fell 3.9% in the second quarter of 2019 compared with the same period last year, with feature films down 16.7%; TV down 1.2%; commercials plunging 19.8%, and TV reality shows down 16.2%, according to FilmLA, the city’s film office. The only bright spots were TV dramas (up 17.3%), TV comedies (up 3.2%), TV pilots (up 35.5%) and web-based TV (up 7.4%).
“Although our latest report reveals a decline in filming on location, local production facilities tell us that they are operating at capacity,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “We’ll be looking at soundstage production again this fall to put some of these numbers in context, and examine demand and opportunities for new local infrastructure investment.”
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Feature films and scripted TV shows that received state tax incentives accounted for 632 shooting days from April 1 to June 30 – up 44.9% from the same time period last year. But they represent only a fraction of the 8,632 on-location second-quarter shooting days in the city.
“Scripted television production in Los Angeles is increasingly driven by the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program,” FilmLA said. “In the second quarter, 51.7% of local TV drama shoot days came from incentivized series – a new milestone. Meanwhile, incentive projects power 20.8% of L.A.’s on-location TV comedy production. A sampling of recent incentivized projects includes Animal Kingdom, Ballers, Euphoria, Good Trouble, Mayans MC, Snowfall, Strange Angel, SWAT, Westworld, Why Women Kill and You.”
But film projects brought to Los Angeles by California’s film incentives contributed only 9.7%, or 96 shooting days, to the feature film category in the second quarter. Incentivized features recently filming in L.A. include Covers, Island Plaza, Main Stream, Palm Springs, SJ2, Torrance, and The Walk. “During the prior quarter, incentivized features were nearly absent from Los Angeles, although such projects were in production elsewhere in California,” FilmLA said.
The five-year average of second quarters is also down significantly, despite California’s generous film incentives program. Total on-location filming is down 7%; feature films are down 14.1%; all television is down 16.5%; TV reality fell 34.4%; commercials are down 5.4%; TV dramas are down 4.2%; TV pilots are down 6.2%, and web-based TV is down 10.3%. The only categories bucking this downward trend are TV comedies, which were up 7.3%, and those projects classified as “Other,” which includes student projects, still photography, music videos and industrial videos. They were up 4.9%.
Commercial production, which is not eligible for state tax incentives, “has been trending downward as producers pursue alternatives to Los Angeles for filming,” according to FilmLA. “A tightening market due to consumers’ turn towards streaming services and away from ad-supported entertainment products are also thought to play roles in the sector’s downturn.”
FilmLA bases its data on days of permitted production within its jurisdiction, with one “shoot day” defined as one crew’s permission to film at one or more defined locations during all or part of any given 24-hour period. The data does not include production that occurs on certified sound stages or on-location in jurisdictions not served by FilmLA.
Total shoot days in the second quarter came in at 8,632 – down from 8,978 in the second quarter last year. Feature film came in at 986 shoot days; television accounted for 2,918 shoot days; commercials 1,280, and “Other” 3,448. In the second quarter, “Other,” which receive no tax incentives, accounted for nearly 40% of all on-location shooting days.