L.A. film production down 56% in first quarter

TV shoots rebound after 2008's strike-induced stoppage

Film location work in Los Angeles plunged dramatically during the first three months of 2009, falling by 56.3% when compared to the first quarter of last year.

Television filming, however, rebounded by 76.4% against first quarter 2008, when the WGA strike shut down TV production. As a result -- after factoring in a 34.2% drop in recession-battered commercial shoots -- first-quarter location filming in L.A. was virtually stagnant, increasing by 0.7% year-over-year.

FilmL.A., which coordinates permitting location shooting in L.A., unincorporated parts of L.A. County and other local jurisdications, reported Monday that the total number of permitted production days amounted to 11,431 for the quarter.

FilmL.A. president Paul Audley attributed the poor showing on the film side to the continuing flight of feature films from the area.

"Most big-budget feature films are not shot locally, and even independent filmmakers are shooting fewer days in our area," he said. "While we applaud Sacramento's recently passed film incentive, which should help entice independent filmmakers, the $75 million production budget cap means the more expensive studio films will not qualify for the program, which should be expanded if California is to compete with incentive-rich states that have studio and talent infrastructures of their own."

With just 903 permitted shooting days during the quarter, feature film production registered its lowest quarterly tally since tracking began in 1993.

While TV shoots appeared to soar, that was only in comparison to 2008's shutdown. Within TV, dramas shot back up 191% to 1,554 permit days, but that was in line with pre-strike averages. Sitcom shoots jumped 48.8% to 250. Reality TV, which comprises 54.3% of all TV shoots, dominated the category, rising 68.7% to 3,407 permit days.
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