We've Got Hollywood Covered

The Incredible Shrinking Industry (Again)

How bad is the film production crisis in L.A.?

Let’s put it this way: If you are a lighting technician or a grip, chances are you didn’t work at all in January, February or March. As I report Monday in the British daily the Guardian, the estimated unemployment rate for technicians for that period was 75-80 percent.

According to the leading agencies representing cinematographers, about 80 per cent of directors of photography are also currently out of work — including members of the ASC, the cream of the profession.

As Film LA and other organizations have pointed out, nobody is shooting here — not before the state’s proposed package of tax incentives kicks in over the summer, anyway. This winter saw just two big-budget productions: “Iron Man 2” and Tim Burton’s take on “Alice in Wonderland.” A decade ago, the same period would have seen a dozen or more major productions.

The rest of 2009 isn’t looking quite that slow, but almost. Film LA gave me the names of just six other movies with budgets over $75 million slated to shoot some or all of the time in our very own City of Angels.

They are: the latest superhero spectacular, “Green Hornet”; a sci-fi movie about an alien invasion called “Battle: Los Angeles,” starring Aaron Eckhardt; another sci-fi movie, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, called “Inception”; “Little Fockers” (the latest in the Meet The Parents franchise); “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”; and Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the Michael Lewis baseball bestseller “Moneyball.”

And that’s it. They say Hollywood is a state of mind as much as a geographical location; the risk for the industry, these days, is that it won’t be anything else.