On-Location Filming in Los Angeles Dropped 41.4% in Q3 Amid WGA, SAG-AFTRA Strikes

The steepest losses came from scripted television, while reality TV emerged as the region’s primary production driver, according to FilmLA

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On-location filming in Los Angeles fell 41.4% year over year in the third quarter to a total of 5,311 shoot days as the Writers’ Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes halted Hollywood productions, according to a new report by FilmLA.

The office noted that the labor disputes were not the sole reason for the decline, citing overall on-location filming in the region falling for seven consecutive quarters.

Unsurprisingly, the steepest losses came from the near complete shutdown of scripted television production in May, with television drama and comedy production falling 99% and 99.4% for the quarter, respectively. TV drama productions had a total of 12 shoot days, compared to 1,198 shoot days a year ago, while comedy productions had 2 shoot days, compared to 352 shoot days a year ago. No filming took place by projects qualifying for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, and no TV Pilot filming occurred.  

Feature film production saw a 54.6% drop during the third quarter to 376 shoot days from 828 shoot days a year ago. The majority of projects were smaller, independent productions that were among a few moving forward under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements. Projects included “Adult Best Friends,” “Don’t Trip,” “Eyes in the Trees,” “From Ashes,” “Isaac,” “Lake George,” “Roses on the Vine,” and “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” As in the television categories, no recent features in production were  associated with the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program.

Despite falling 23% year over year during the third quarter, reality TV productions emerged as the region’s primary production driver, accounting for 97.3% of all television filming for the period and 40.8% of all on-location filming.

Reality TV productions had a total of 2,166 shoot days for the quarter, compared to 2,824 shoot days a year ago. Productions included “Basketball Wives,” “Bite Stop,” “Dress My Tour,” “Real Murders of Los Angeles,” “Side Hustlers” and “Vanderpump Rules.” 

Commercial production continued its decline with a 25.8% year over year drop to 758 shoot days. Production output for the category fell 42.7% compared to its five-year quarterly average. Commercials that shot locally last quarter included spots for popular dining brands Chili’s, Chipotle, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jimmy John’s, McDonalds, Panera Bread, and Pizza Hut and Starbucks.  

“Though Commercial production is not directly affected by recent  industry strikes, loss of production to rival jurisdictions is an ongoing concern,” FilmLA said.

Elsewhere, FilmLA’s other category, which includes smaller shoots such as still photography,  student films, documentaries, music and industrial videos and other projects fell 29.8 percent to 1,952 shoot days.

The latest FilmLA data comes after the WGA concluded its 148-day strike on Sept. 27 after reaching a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. That agreement was ratified on Oct. 9 with approval from 99% of the guild.

Meanwhile, talks between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP broke down last week. During Bloomberg’s Screentime conference last week, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos cited an added levy based on subscribers the actors guild proposed, saying that was a “bridge too far” compared to the studios’ original offer of a “success-based bonus.”

Sarandos said the “success-based bonus” is similar to the deal reached by the studios and the WGA, even noting that while the proposal for the actors guild would cost four to five times as much as the agreement for writers, the studios embraced the potential by “wrap[ping] their arms” around it.

“That issue that we got resolved with the writers was not only accepted in the deal, but ratified by a 99% vote of the writers’ guild,” Sarandos said. “I know that all these guilds are not created equal and they all have different needs and more bespoke needs, but like I said, that is one that worked that rewarded success, which we agreed with.”

In a statement sent to its members and posted to social media, SAG-AFTRA accused the studios of using “bully tactics” towards the guild, adding that the AMPTP “intentionally misrepresented” the cost of the guild’s proposal, overestimating its cost by 60%.

“We take encouragement from the recent successes achieved by the WGA and AMPTP at the negotiating table,” FilmLA president Paul Audley said in a statement. “When remaining  talks conclude and production returns under mutually agreeable terms, that will be welcome to us all.”

For all of TheWrap’s Hollywood strike coverage, click here.

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