LA Reports All-Time Record Quarter for On-Location Shoots

TV productions like “Flight Attendant” and “Euphoria” boost production despite pandemic, FilmLA reports

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On-location filming in the fourth quarter of 2021 (October-December) set a record for on-location shooting in greater Los Angeles, according to a FilmLA report released Wednesday.

However, overall, COVID-plagued 2021 was not a record year for local filming, the report said.

Across the major categories of production, the pandemic has had the greatest negative effect on local feature film production. Features that filmed locally during the pandemic include the Netflix films “Me Time,” “Your Place or Mine” “The Gray Man” and an untitled Jonah Hill movie. Independent films included “He Went That Way,” “Way Down Bundy” and “Wild Chickens.”

Television production fared better, and continues to fare better, than feature films, the report said. And in the TV categories, TV drama was the biggest driver in Q4.

According to FilmLA’s latest report, on-location filming in the fourth quarter of 2021 (October-December) remained strong, setting an all-time quarterly record of 10,780 shoot days (SD). That is 4 percent above the previous three month high of 10,359 shoot days set in Q4, 2018. It is also an increase over the previous quarter, revealing brisk production leading into the holiday season, the report said.

“This is an encouraging report by most indicators, but how production will fare in 2022 remains uncertain at this time,” FilmLA president Paul Audley said in a statement. “With the highly contagious Omicron variant driving record COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, industry output is also affected. Just as 2021 got off to a slow start, the New Year has filmmakers feeling cautious, with many studios and production companies delaying their return to filming. Our hope is that 2022 follows a similar trajectory as last year – with a slow, responsible start and strong end-of-year finish.”

A FilmLA spokesman told TheWrap, “So far in 2022 we have assisted with the cancellation or rescheduling of nearly two dozen shoots for COVID-19 related reasons, and we know that other projects are on hold and choosing not to apply for permits until case counts decline.”

The television category posted 4,925 SD, on par with the previous two quarters. For the year, the television category posted a record 18,560 SD for 2021, besting the previous record of 16,463 SD logged in 2016, by 18 percent. Put another way, about one-half of all shoot days recorded by FilmLA in 2021 – 49.2 percent – were generated by scripted or unscripted television production.

Among the subcategories for television, TV dramas in Q4 generated 1,294 SD, and a total of 5,610 SD were generated for the year – representing a 23.8 percent increase above the previous annual pre-COVID average. Local dramas that shot this past quarter include “All American” (The CW), “Promised Land” (ABC), “Snowfall” (FX), “Euphoria” (HBO), “Bel Air” (Peacock) and “The Flight Attendant”(HBO Max).

The TV comedies subcategory continued to decline, finishing the quarter down 40.6 percent from the pre-COVID annual averages (1,302 vs. 2,192). Locally filmed TV comedies include “Home Economics” (ABC), “Kenan” (NBC), “Mr. Mayor” (NBC), “Chad”(TBS), “Grace and Frankie”(Netflix), and “Made for Love”(HBO Max).

Finally, the report said the TV reality category continued to break records “as networks and streaming platforms look for additional content to fill in their schedules”. Shoot days for TV reality shows generated 9,551 SD in 2021, which is 129.8 percent above the annual pre- COVID average of 4,157.

The report said the rise and fall of COVID-19 infection rates at the beginning of 2021 had production off to a slow start. The post-holiday surge at the end of 2020 had studio production on voluntary hiatus during the first part of 2021. As infection rates began to decline in greater Los Angeles, the report said shoot days increased significantly, reaching 9,791 SD in Q2, before rising higher to 10,179 SD in Q3.