We've Got Hollywood Covered

Los Angeles Leads All Major Production Sites in Soundstage Availability, FilmLA Report Says

City had an average occupancy rate of 95% in 2018

FilmLA released an update on its ongoing study of Hollywood soundstage production on Wednesday. While the update does not include any data from the COVID-19 production shutdown, the organization says it demonstrates the importance of soundstages in L.A. film and TV production as it prepares to resume.

The report analyzes soundstage usage from 13 studio operators that have partnered with FilmLA and combine for 68% of all soundstage space in the county. On average, those soundstage facilities reported a usage rate of 95% with 14,491 stage shoot days and 1,986 backlot shoot days recorded for the year. Overall, 71% of those shoot days were for half-hour or one-hour TV shows.

“Partner stage operators continue to confide in us about the challenges they face in their business,” said FilmLA President Paul Audley. “High occupancy levels have for
several years offered proof that efforts to attract productions to California are working. Streaming content also fueled stage space demand. What remains to be seen, as the film industry seeks to responsibly resume production, is how occupancy and utilization will change in the wake of COVID-19.”

Soundstages are expected to play a major part of the process to resume filming in Hollywood, which leads all major production cities in soundstage availability. Studio production heads have told TheWrap that is relatively easier for studios to implement COVID-19 safety protocols on a soundstage than it is for on-location shooting due to the more compact nature of the shooting environment. This means that filming for TV and streaming shows, commercials, and talk shows is expected to resume faster than for feature film productions, which generally require more on-location shooting. On Tuesday, CBS announced that its long-running soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” would become the first broadcast show to resume filming, with production starting this week at the network’s Television City studios.

FilmLA acknowledges in its conclusion that future updates of the soundstage report and research on production from other organizations will likely focus on the changes COVID-19 will bring to film and TV production. This includes whether Hollywood productions choose to film in Los Angeles to avoid travel for cast and crew and whether health concerns affect long-term patterns of shooting such as the popularity of indoor shooting spaces and future construction of shooting spaces. FilmLA’s next update, which will cover soundstage shooting in 2019, is expected within the next six months.

On Monday, following approval from state and county health officials, FilmLA reopened its application process for on-location shooting for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down production in mid-March. The organization will require applying productions to adhere to the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s safety regulations, which include regular disinfecting of all public areas, limiting set access to essential cast and crew, testing of all staff, and review of all production spaces to ensure social distancing.