LA Film, TV Production Rose 9.6 Percent in 2014

Reality TV and dramas benefitting from new tax credits drive gains along with online commercials, FilmL.A. reports

On-location film and TV production in the Los Angeles region shot up 9.6 percent in 2014, fueled by an increase in TV drama and reality shoots and a rise in the production of commercials for online.

The annual numbers were revealed Tuesday in a report from FilmL.A., the agency that oversees and issues permits for location shoots. The data was for the first time based on the number of days that permits were obtained for shoots, rather than the number of locations at which filming occurred.

“This is big news for our city given the critical role the entertainment industry plays in creating tens of thousands of good middle-class jobs and showing the world what it means to be an Angeleno,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The new numbers still leave the region down roughly 50 percent from the peak production levels it hit in 2009. Hollywood has suffered through a major exodus of TV and film projects since then, as tax incentives offered by other states and countries lured TV and film producers.

Last summer, a bill providing $1.65 billion in production credits over the next five years was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. It more than triples the funding of the current tax credit program which, even though not on a par with incentives offered by the state’s rivals, had a lot to do with the strong 2014 numbers.

The 12.2 percent rise in overall TV shoots, for example, was driven in part by an increase in TV drama shoots. They’re the most lucrative projects for the regions they film in because they are typically high-end, hour-long and can run for years. Last year, 27 percent of TV dramas filmed in the area received tax credits, compared to just four percent in 2010. “Justified,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Teen Wolf” were among the shows that benefited.

“Besides getting more people working, which is the most important part, the rise shows people that these incentives really do work and will give networks and studios more confidence in staying here,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley told TheWrap.

Reality shows also contributed to the TV gains, rising 14.7 percent over last year, which helped offset the 26.7 percent drop in the number of sitcom shoots. That’s a less significant number, since the vast majority of those shows are filmed on sound stages. Pilot production was up 15.4 percent.

Feature film production fell 3.2 percent from last year, after plunging 26 percent in the fourth quarter, as pricey major studios movies continued to be lured by other states and countries’ superior incentives. Movies with budgets of more than $75 million – the majority of superhero and big-budget tentpole projects – don’t qualify for the credits under the current plan, but will starting in July.

The number of shooting days for commercials rose nine percent in 2014, driven by an increase in the production of ads created for online.

“There is still hard work to be done, said Audley, “and we still have a long way to go to get back to the point that makes it sustaining for those work on these projects and their vendors,” he said. “But we’re slowly getting back to the place where Hollywood can remain Hollywood.”