California Tax Incentives Boost L.A. Movie Production While TV Activity Declines

Seth Abramovitch
"Entourage" filming on Wilshire Blvd.

Compared to the first quarter of 2013, this year's overall production outside of studio lots is down just 1 percent.

California's film incentives may be limited compared to other states but they made a difference during the first three months of 2014, covering 25 percent of all movies and 22 percent of TV drama production shot in the state.

According to a new report by FilmL.A., the nonprofit organization that is the official film office for the city of Los Angeles and L.A. County, "projects retained with the aid of the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program contribute mightily to regional production yields."

FilmL.A. tracks productions that are shot in and around L.A., excluding those done on studio lots. These productions require permits, which allows them to be tallied. While all production -- including movies, TV, commercials and digital -- declined nearly 1 percent in the first quarter (13,265 production days vs. 13,361 in the same quarter in 2013), on-location feature production was up 24.2 percent to 1,588 production days compared to 1,279 in 2013's first quarter.

STORY: California's Film and TV Incentives Generated $1.9 Billion in Spending in Last Three Years

"The [feature] category outperformed its 5-year quarterly average by 39.4 percent," reads the report, "while still falling thousands of [production days] short of its peak in 1996."

Among the state-subsidized movies made in the first quarter were Entourage: The Movie, Horrible Bosses 2, Los Altos, Me Him Her, Night Crawler and The Zone. "This report underscores the importance of our work to expand the film and television credit program to create jobs and boost our economy," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

TV is the biggest contributor to regional production, but the trend is troubling. According to the report, TV production was down 9.2 percent for the first quarter to 4,624 production days compared to 5,091 in 2013.

The decline in TV was across all of the subcategories. TV Dramas (down 7.9 percent to 1,160 production days), TV Reality (down 9.1 percent to 1,446 production days), TV Sitcom (down 18.4 percent to 496 production days) and Web-Based TV (down 29.7 percent to 379 production days). One bright spot: TV Pilot production increased 1.5 percent to 467 production days. Most shows shoot in the place where the pilot was made if they are picked up by a network.

The TV numbers would have been worse, according to FilmL.A., without shows that got state tax incentives. Those included Franklin & Bash, Justified, Major Crimes, Murder in the First, Pretty Little Liars, Rizzoli & Isles, Switched at Birth and Teen Wolf.

FilmL.A. has been a strong supporter of efforts in Sacramento to expand and extend existing film and TV incentives. A bill has been introduced in the State Assembly to do that and is slowly making its way through the legislative process.

"This quarter's report hints at what would be possible if California were to truly step up and compete for new film projects and jobs," said FilmL.A. president Paul Audley. "California's Film & Television Tax Credit Program is in its fifth year; just imagine where we could be five years from now if current efforts to expand the state's incentive program are successful."

To read the complete Film L.A. press release and report, click here.