Movie Production Up 20% in L.A. Area – And It's Not Nearly Enough

Movie Production Up 20% in L.A. Area – And It's Not Nearly Enough

A spike in film and commercials offsets a dip in TV, driving overall on-location production up 9.5% over last year

A surge in movie production offset a slide in TV shoots and powered a 9.5 percent rise in on-location filming in the Los Angeles region, according to figures released Tuesday.

Feature film production was up nearly 20 percent over the same period last year, according to FilmLA, the city agency that oversees the permitting process and shoots. Commerical shoots were up nearly 18 percent during the same period, while TV was off by 3.6 percent.

The gains in film shoots were welcome and above the sector's 5-year quarterly average, but remain far below the peak periods of 1996.

Also read: Government Shutdown Brings Ban on TV, Film Location Shoots in L.A. Federal Locales

“Any increase in local production is cause for celebration, as long as we don't lose sight of the big picture,” noted FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. “California has yet to match and overcome out-of-state competition for this business.

“For feature film production to be where it once was and should be in L.A., production would need to increase by 125 percent,” Audley continued. “Until Sacramento acts to level the playing field, we won't see the kind of growth and prosperity that California families are counting on.”

Capped at $100 million per year, California's Film and Television Tax Credit Program lags well behind other states and countries in terms of what it can offer financially. Proximity to Hollywood and a first-rate infrastructure of large vendors, crew and post-production facilities offset that to a degree, but the state has been steadily losing production work for years.

Also read: L.A. Location Shoots Rise in Q2, But Big Picture Remains Grim

Movies that qualified for the state tax credits made up 5.5 percent of the category's quarterly total in the third quarter and included “Best Man,” “Jersey Boys,” “Kitchen Sink,” “OT Beach” and “Ride.”
The gains in the film numbers came without any big budget studio movie; instead, it was a surge in the number of low-budget, independent projects, Audley said. And despite the quarterly gain, the overall trend is a concern.

“The opportunities are there because a lot of the big-budget players have left,” Audley said. “What that will eventually is our vendor and crew base will erode, and that could bring a very rapid drop-off.

“I don't see how we can sustain even the current levels unless we get some shot of hope from Sacramento,” he said. An ally in that fight will be Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who recently named former AMPAS President Tom Sherak as the city film czar, and charged him with keeping TV and film production in the area.

“I've made the industry a priority for my administration because it generates 500,000
jobs,” Garcetti said in a statement Tuesday. “This isn't about the stars we see on the
screen but about carpenters, caterers, and electricians and the stores they shop in.”

The TV drops were across the board. Sitcoms shoots were off 15 percent from the same period last year, while reality shoots fell 14.3 percent and filming for Web TV dropped 15.6 percent.

  • renamoretti1

    I have read those figures for years and they do not track with real life at all.

    The main problem of the L.A. Film industry is not lack of political help, it is that the projects we make have been worse and worse and (all claims of box-office records and TV smash hits to the contrary) there is less and less money to make fewer and fewer projects.

    When, just to take an example, FOX decides to sink more money into flops like New Girl just because it has told the media it was a “tentpole”, it's money that isn't spent on something that might have a better return for the industry.

    Multiply that by the oodles of flops being continues and bad movies being made (which killed the video aftermarket for lack of interest) and you have an industry screaming “we're doing great!” while sinking lower and lower creatively and financially.

  • Sal

    With all the geographical resources in California to make movies appear as another location why shoot elsewhere? They don't need to leave. Just give production companies better financial incentives to keep the money within this state of Calif. Especially with all the current unemployed people. Give extra incentives for hiring veterans also.

  • Daniel Sterling Sample

    The Hollywood Studios will always follow the money trail where it leads them and right now that path goes straight to China. The Hollywood Studios form the largest money laundering operation in America after the oil industry. Right now, the Hollywood Studios are falling over themselves trying to get their films into the exploding Chinese theatrical market and the only avenue is get around film quotas in China is by forming co-productions with the Chinese government. Tax incentives in California are really “small potatoes” when it comes to deciding where the Hollywood Studios will shoot their films. Shooting outside America actually makes it much easier for the Hollywood Studios to hide and bury their profits which would be taxable if those profits ever returned, at least visibly, to American soil. Just in case you don't understand, this is called corruption and the Hollywood Studios,as well as a growing number of politicians in California and Washington are feeding on your tax dollars. Merry Christmas, America, please bend over so the Hollywood Studios can have their way with you….again.
    Daniel Sterling Sample
    Hollywood (please note, I am attaching my email address)