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

TV shoots — especially web-based — fueled the increase, FilmL.A. reports

On-location shoots rose 8.6 percent in the L.A. area during the second quarter, but the big picture still looks grim due to a shift to lower-budget productions in the region.

TV shoots — especially web-based — were up 26.6 percent and provided most of the growth compared to the year ago period, the L.A.'s permitting agency FilmL.A. reported Tuesday. Movie location shoots stayed flat during the quarter.

There were 12,173 permitted production days from April to June of this year, compared to 11,209 during the same period last year.

Despite the overall gains, both high-value TV drama and reality shoots were running below their five-year averages. TV drama filming was 12 percent under its five-year average.

Because they are usually hour-long, high-end and multiple-episodes, TV dramas are critical to the overall health of local filming. They employ more people and bring more economic benefits than other types of productions.

Also read: FilmL.A.: Los Angeles Production Rebounding

Reality TV (up 6.4 percent year-over-year) remains the largest contributor to L.A.'s TV total, but as with dramas, the sector isn't measuring up to past yields. Reality TV finished the quarter 4.7 percent below its 5-year average

Web-based TV filming spiked 63.1 percent year-over-year and TV pilots (up 51.8 percent) and TV sitcoms (up 39.1 percent) delivered solid performances, building on momentum gained in the first quarter. but the gains say as much about how bad things were last year as they do this year. With the pilots, for example, though the amount of filming is up, L.A.'s share of the overall market is shrinking as other cities lure productions with tax and film credit incentives.

Also read: L.A. TV Pilot Production Nearing All-Time Low

"The more we study these numbers, the more obvious is the need for historical context," noted FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. "For production to increase 20, 40 or even 60 percent in a category during a single quarter is positive and significant, but it also demands we look at the record and see what's been happening in those categories seasonally and over time."

California's Film and Television Tax Credit Program did its part to bring new projects to the region. State-qualified comprised 22.7 percent of all TV drama activity and included "Franklin & Bash," "Lost Angels," "Major Crimes," "Perception," "Pretty Little Liars," "Rizzoli and Isles," "Teen Wolf" and "Switched at Birth."

Production days for commercials increased 4.5 percent in the quarter. That was 21.5 percent stronger than its five-year average.

On-location movie production was up one-half percent for the quarter, and that was 9.4 percent better than the five-year average. State-qualified feature projects — including "Insidious," "Lowdown," "OT Beach" and "Ride" — made up 6.3 percent of the category.

"The latest report underscores the importance of two recent developments," Audley
noted. "The first thing to note is an incremental increase in filming driven by new production categories like web-based TV. The second is that unfortunately, we've also
seen considerable erosion in the most economically significant production categories.

"On-location feature production in L.A. is nowhere near as common as it was in the mid-
90s, and despite a good run, we're still logging fewer days for TV dramas and reality series than we used to."