Big drop in L.A. production days

Feature film most affected in 31% decline

On-location film and TV production slid 31% in the second quarter, yielding an nearly 25% drop in production days for the first half of the year, FilmLA said Wednesday.

The nonprofit group, which provides production-permit services throughout the Los Angeles area, recorded 19,015 production days from location-based shoots through June 30. That was 6,181 fewer than the first six months of 2008.

The first-half plunge was most severe in feature film, with a drop of almost 53%. The category has posted four consecutive quarters of double-digit declines in production days.

Production days for commercials -- off 31% during the first half -- also have fallen for four straight quarters.

Television shoots dipped less than those in the other segments, down just more than 4% in the first half.

FilmLA said the TV declines are traceable in part to last year's WGA strike, which led to a limited period of boosted production in early 2009.

"The WGA labor action introduced roller-coaster-like production swings in 2008 that led to illusory 49% year-over-year gains for TV in the first quarter of 2009 and 30.7% loss in the second," the organization said.

Production of TV dramas was up almost 10% in the first half, but sitcoms tumbled nearly 38%, and reality production was off 12%.

TV pilots were up 10%, largely on first-quarter gains.

Feature film absorbed the biggest decline in location-based production during the second quarter, at 44%. TV was off almost 31% between April and June, and commercials activity slid nearly 25%.

"Our recent television-production figures have been all over the map due to last year's work stoppage," FilmLA president Paul Audley said. "But we are deeply concerned by our long-term loss of commercial and feature-film production. The advertising sector has been hard hit by the economy, and feature films are consistently shot in incentive-generous locales outside California."

The downbeat data follows this week's news from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. that suggested runaway production is continuing to eat away at regional film and TV employment. The LAEDC also called for boosted California tax incentives for state-based productions.