TV, Film Production Tumbles in L.A. County, Report Says

TV dramas continue slide as low-budget webisode shoots spike, FilmLA reports. Movie production falls 21 percent and overall on-location production is off nearly 4 percent from last year

Feature film shoots plunged, TV's troubles continued and overall on-location production in the L.A. County area fell 3.9 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, FilmLA reported Tuesday.

Nearly all of the major filming categories that are tracked by the agency responsible for coordinating location film shoots in the region showed declines. Permitted production days (PPD) declined to 10,7333 in 2012, compared to 11,210 at this point last year. 

The only growth areas were in the production of TV webisodes and sitcoms. Webisodes spiked, shooting up 149 percent to 423 PPD, and now make up about 9 percent of annual TV production. That's a mixed blessing at best, as they are generally very low-budget and employ fewer people for shorter amounts of time than dramas, sitcoms and even reality shows.

Also read: Gov. Brown Signs California TV, Film Tax Credit Extension

“The television landscape is changing in Los Angeles, and economically, the sector has
taken a turn for the worse,” said FilmL.A. President Paul Audley. “Many of the new TV projects we’re coordinating permits for have low spending and employment impacts. More needs to be done, policy-wise, to help return sought-after TV drama projects to Los Angeles.”

TV dramas are the most desirable productions for the region, because they're generally hour-long, higher-end and shoot a season's-worth of episodes. A single drama series can create thousands of jobs and bring tens of millions of dollars to the region.

Also read: Movies, Commercials Offset Continued Slide in TV Filming in L.A.

Television slipped 1.4 percent overall for the period (4,245 PPD in 2012 vs. 4,304 in 2011), led by steep production declines for TV drama (down 18.5 percent to 923 PPD) and TV reality (down 20.5 percent to 1,579 PPD). Production for TV pilots also suffered (down 45.9 percent to 53 PPD), though most of that was because of their seasonal nature.

Sitcoms, which makes up about 11 percent of annual TV production, were up considerably (47.6 percent to 608 PPD), owing to the number of single-camera comedy series in production locally.

The state's tax credit program brought five TV projects to Los Angeles last quarter. State-qualified projects, including "Body of Proof," "Bunheads," "Help for the Holidays," "Major Crimes" and "Rizzoli and Isles," contributed 47 PPD, representing 1.1 percent of total TV days logged during the quarter.

On-location feature production dropped 21.1 percent for the quarter (1,640 PPD in 2012 vs. 2,079 PPD in 2011). The California Film & Television Tax Credit Program brought just a few new projects to L.A. this July through September, likely because fewer feature projects qualified for state credits this year vs. last year.

Also read: Report: L.A. Still Losing Drama Pilots to Other Cities

State-qualified feature projects generated 100 PPD for the region, representing 6.1 percent of the quarterly total. Projects filming locally included "Jesus in Cowboy Boots," "Plush" and "The Hive."

“We expect to see more state-qualified projects pull permits to film in L.A.,” Audley noted. “We applaud the recent two-year extension of California’s film incentive program, and support expanding the program to stop the production outflow and attract a more diverse slate of high-value productions.”

Commercials production decreased 5.3 percent for the quarter (1,635 PPD in 2012 vs. 1,726 PPD in 2011), ending a year-long winning streak. Commercial production, buoyed in large part by the Olympics, remains up 10.4 percent for the year.

Last quarter, a surge in feature film and commercial shoots offset a continuing slide in TV productions. The overall second-quarter numbers held steady, and were off 0.4 percent from the same period last year. In all, the county saw 11,209 permitted production days in the second quarter, as compared to 11,260 during the same period last year.