Strike Concerns Lead to 24% Drop in Los Angeles On-Location Shoots, FilmLA Reports

Studios have significantly dialed back their production plans amid the possibility of a writers’ strike next month

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The possibility of a writers’ strike in Hollywood next month has taken its toll on production in Los Angeles, as the new quarterly report from FilmLA shows a 24% drop in the number of on-location shoot days recorded in the county.

In Q1 of 2022, FilmLA recorded 9,832 shoot days as Hollywood pushed to make up for the time lost by the COVID-19 shutdown. But with the possibility that the Writers Guild of America could order a strike if a new contract with studios isn’t agreed upon by the May 1 deadline, studios are significantly drawing down the number of new productions while hastily completing ones that began early this year.

In Q1 of 2023, 7,476 shoot days were recorded, down 24% year-over-year and 16.8% below the five-year average for the first quarter. Television in particular took a huge hit with 2,862 shoot days, down 35.8% from last quarter and 24.2% from the quarterly average.

“Over three consecutive quarters, we’ve seen a significant slowdown across all of the most economically important categories of on-location production,” noted FilmLA president Paul Audley. “Particularly in the television world, decisions about future content direction are on hold, pending the outcome of corporate restructuring actions and industry labor negotiations.”

Breaking down the TV decrease further, drastic drops in shoots for reality and drama shows were seen. Drama shoots fell 40% from 1,279 shoot days in Q1 2022 to 762 in Q1 2023, 37.3% below the five-year average. Reality shoots are still 17% above the five-year average at 1,617 shoot days, but down 37.8% from last year’s 2,600 shoot days.

Earlier this week, more than 9,000 members of the Writers Guild of America voted to authorize its leaders to order a strike if a tentative agreement with studios is not met. The WGA is pushing for higher residual and minimum pay for writers on streaming TV shows and films as well as minimum staffing requirements for writers rooms.

Even if the WGA and studios reach an agreement that is ratified by the writers, attention will then turn to the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA for their upcoming contract negotiations. While studio insiders have told TheWrap that there is hope that an agreement reached by one guild without a strike will increase the likelihood of the same happening with the other two guilds, insiders at the DGA and SAG-AFTRA have said that they are also looking for significant changes to how their members are compensated on streaming projects.