Los Angeles Film Production Declines in 2019

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Fourth-quarter shooting fell five percent short of last year's numbers, according to new data from FilmLA.

There was less filming in Los Angeles last year than anticipated.

According to a new report from FilmLA, overall production in 2019 slipped 5 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year. FilmLA analysts, however, are careful to note that the final quarter of 2018 ranks as the most productive period recorded by the organization in over 25 years. 

In addition, on location filming in 2019 was greater from October to December than in the other quarters of the year.

Specifically, TV comedy production was up nearly 40 percent, web-based TV increased 36 percent and TV pilots spiked 33 percent. At the same time, TV drama shoots were down 10 percent due to fewer shows and fewer production days for recurring shows. A number of major recurring series including Ballers, Legion, Strange Angel and The Affair ended production over the past two quarters. TV Reality production, meanwhile, declined 4 percent.

Overall, on-location TV drama production —  a mainstay of the L.A. film economy — finished the entire year 3 percent below 2018 levels but still 4 percent ahead of its five-year category average.

“Whenever we publish new permit data, it raises similar questions,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “Is the state incentive working?’ some ask, and ‘What’s happening with runaway production?’ It’s important to remember that California is locked in a permanent competition against global rivals for film and television projects and jobs.”

Added Audley, “The fact is California’s film incentive reliably brings LA around 30 percent more TV drama production, and around 13 percent more feature film production than we would have without the program. Entertainment unions are reporting ample work opportunities for local crews. Soundstage occupancy is high. These are all important considerations when evaluating the health of this business.”

Incentivized television projects that have recently filmed in and around Los Angeles include American Horror Story: 1984, Good Girls, Good Trouble, Lucifer, The Orville, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, The Rookie, This is Us, Westworld and Why Women Kill.

In terms of movie shoots, feature film production slipped 2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to 2018 but still represented a peak for 2019 as the only quarter in which production did not decline by double digits. Two incentivized film projects to shoot recently include Gia Coppola's Mainstream and John Lee Hancock's The Little Things.