On-Location Filming in LA Drops 36% in Q4 Despite Hollywood Strikes Resolution

Production activity for 2023 fell 32.4% year over year, according to FilmLA

Jason Mraz and partner Daniella Karagach earned all 10s for their Argentine Tango on Week 9 of "Dancing WIth the Stars"
Jason Mraz and partner Daniella Karagach earned all 10s for their Argentine Tango on Week 9 of "Dancing WIth the Stars" (Credit: Disney/Eric McCandless)

On-location filming fell 36.4% year over year during the fourth quarter of 2023 with a total of 5,520 shoot days, indicating that the resolution of the dual Hollywood strikes were too late for productions to begin picking up before the end of the year.

The findings, which determined an overall decline of 32.4% for 2023 year over year came Tuesday from FilmLA, the partner film office for the City and County of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions. That percentage summarizes four consecutive quarters of double-digit decline in production activity with a total of 24,873 shoot days.

“History offers no point of comparison to the present. The pandemic year aside, we have to look very far back — farther back than permit records allow — to find a time when production levels stayed so low, for so long,” FilmLA president Paul
Audley said in a statement. “Everyone we are speaking to is eager to see production resume. Even as it does, we’ll remain in uncharted territory. We have months to go before we can describe what the new normal looks like for filming in L.A.”

Despite being able to resume filming in November, only a handful of continuing series attempted new episodes, resulting in television production falling 54.3% to a total of 1,707 shoot days for the quarter and 43.8% for 9,430 shoot days for the year.

The majority of TV production since May came from reality series, which was down 29.2% to 1,425 shoot days in the fourth quarter and 28.1% to 7,221 shoot days for 2023. Overall, the category comprised 76.5% of all on-location TV production in 2023. Local reality productions included “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC), “Death in the Dorms” (Hulu), “Master Chef” (Fox), “Selling Sunset” (Netflix) and “Murder in the Heartland” (Investigation Discovery).

Productions on TV dramas and comedies dropped 91.3% and 85.6%, respectively, from October through December. Dramas had a total of 101 shoot days in 2023, compared to 1,155 in 2022, while comedies had 51 shoot days in 2023, compared to 353 in the prior year. Projects that qualified for California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program logged 25 shoot days.

The shows quickest to return to production included “Loot” (Apple TV+), “The Family Business” (BET+), “Quantum Leap” (NBC), “The Rookie” (ABC), “S.W.A.T.” (CBS) and “Unstable” (Netflix).

Feature film production also took a hit, with a 57.5% drop to 323 shoot days in the fourth quarter. The majority of projects in production during the summer were smaller, independent productions, among a few moving forward under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements. “Hurricana,” “Shell” and “Starstruck” qualified for the film and television tax credit, generating a total of 28 shoot days.

Elsewhere, web and television commercials slipped 9.9% year over year to 746 shoot days, which were unaffected by the strikes but trended lower due to runway production. Commercials made in L.A. included automobile ads for BMW, Chevy, Honda, Lincoln, Nissan and Toyota. Retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Walgreens also shot spots locally.

Meanwhile, FilmLA’s “other” category, which aggregates smaller, lower-cost shoots such as still photography, student films, documentaries, music and industrial videos and other projects, declined 18.1% to 2,744 shoot days for the quarter and 20.7% percent to 10,157 shoot days for the year.

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