TV Drama Production in L.A. Down 20 Percent in 2012

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UPDATED: According to the annual report from FilmL.A., the group that tracks location shooting in L.A. County, overall production was up 1.7 percent, led by TV commercial shoots.

The number of television dramas produced in Los Angeles outside of studio lots saw a dramatic drop in 2012, plunging 20 percent from the prior year, according to FilmL.A., the nonprofit group that coordinates permits for on-location productions in L.A. County.

Click Here to See the On-Location Production Report

That was the most eye-popping news in FilmL.A.’s annual report, which was released Tuesday. Overall on-location production increased 1.7 percent in 2012 compared to the prior year, but the production figures are still below what they were before 2009 when the recession hit.

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FilmL.A. president Paul Audley expressed concerns about the diminishing share of TV production, which had been noted in other reports since 2011.

“We know that part of the decline in our TV drama figures stems from producers’ desire to cut costs by filming more on studio back-lots and soundstages,” said Audley. “Unfortunately, last year we also saw a record number of new TV drama series shot out of state, resulting in negative economic consequences.”

There were 3,533 TV dramas shot in 2012, which was down from 4,417 in 2011.

The production of TV reality shows also dropped in 2012 by 11.8 percent, but production of TV sitcoms was up 52.9 percent. Much of the increase in sitcoms occurred in the fourth quarter of 2012, when activity jumped by 11.9 percent.

Feature film production rose by 3.7 percent, helped in part by the California Film and Television Tax Credit program, which makes available $100 million in tax credits to eligible projects each year. 

There were 5,892 feature location shoots in 2012, up from 5,682 in 2011.

Among the movies that took advantage of the California tax credits and shot in L.A. were 10 Things I Hate About Life, Baggage Claim, The Bling Ring, Dark Skies, Gangster Squad, and Star Trek Into Darkness.

TV shows that shot in L.A. County and received state tax credits included Body of Proof, Franklin and Bash, Justified, Pretty Little Liars, Rizzoli and Isles, Switched At Birth, Teen Wolf and Thanksgiving House.

One thing that was up sharply was production on location of commercials. That category increased by 14.1 percent last year. FilmL.A. cited the increase in commercials made for online use as a driver of the growth. Of 8,078 commercials made in 2012, 7.9 percent were web-based. That is up from 1.8 percent in 2008, when FilmL.A. first tracked web commercial activity.