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Film LA Blasts Sacramento Over Local TV Production Drop in First Quarter

FX
Prashant Gupta/FX
"Justified" benefits from California tax incentives.

On-location production of features and commercials grew, but a report from the Hollywood nonprofit notes that overall production dropped 2.1 percent in the first three months of 2012.

Television production in Los Angeles city and county fell 9 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, according to a report Tuesday from Film LA, which pointed to that as the primary cause of a 2.1 percent drop in overall on-location production.

Film LA president Paul Audley blamed California’s legislators for not providing more support to stop runaway production. “At a time when other jurisdictions -- notably New York -- are using generous film incentives to set TV production records, California is losing ground as the pilot and series production location of choice,” Audley said. “Sacramento’s lax response to this threat to local jobs is dismaying.”

California has had a program since 2009. It provides $100 million a year in tax incentives for most movie and TV production, but that is typically committed in the first day it becomes available. Other states have more generous incentives, but California has always gotten its share because of the history of production in the state, good weather, availability of facilities and a trained workforce.

The report said that TV pilot projects are off to a slow start this year in Los Angeles, and “even the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, which brought nine state-qualified television projects to Los Angeles last quarter, couldn’t arrest the television category’s overall slump.”

According to the report, projects that got California tax incentives included Franklin & Bash, Justified and Shadow on the Mesa. They represented 1.6 percent of total TV days logged during the quarter.

“This is the first quarter where we’ve seen television projects outnumber features in the list of incentivized projects filming locally,” said Audley. “Nonetheless, we continue to feel the sting of last year’s loss of television dramas and a softening in the reality production segment overall.”

In the TV category, dramas were down 18.6 percent, reality TV down 19.3 percent and TV pilots down 11.4 percent.

One bright spot was in TV situation comedies that are typically shot on studio soundstages, which means they are not counted in the Film LA report (the group only looks at shows that took permits to shoot on streets or locations outside studios). The sitcom category increased 23.3 percent.

Film production on location was up 15.8 percent for the quarter. The report called this a “strong showing during what is usually a slow time of year for feature production.” Feature productions shot in L.A included Channeling, Coffee Town and Kiss Me.

Production of commercials was up 10.8 percent during the first quarter, which the report said continued a strong performance trend that was seen in 2011.