Web TV, Pilots Drive Growth in L.A. Film Shoots

'Teen Wolf,' one of the shows that films in Los Angeles

A new report from Film L.A. shows on-location shoots in the Los Angeles area were up 8.6 percent over 2012, with the nonprofit's president citing California's enhanced incentives as a booster.

TV shows -- particularly online shows and pilots -- helped drive on-location filming in the Los Angeles area up 8.6 percent in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, according to Film L.A.

While the television category drove the upswing in the report from the nonprofit that coordinates permits for filmed entertainment shot on location in L.A., fewer shoots were on record for television dramas, with hefty out-of-state incentives drawing many high-value dramas to other locales.

“The TV drama sub-category underperformed its five-year average by 12 percent (in the second quarter),” says the report, “even after logging year over year gains of 19.3 percent.”

As a category, Web-based TV shoots were up a hefty 63.1 percent year over year, to 499 production days. TV pilot activity was also up 51.8 percent to 394 production days, including sitcoms, which rose 39.1 percent. The growth in sitcoms builds on a strong performance in the first quarter as well.

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“The latest report underscores the importance of two recent developments,” says Paul Audley, president of Film L.A. “The first thing to note is an incremental increase in filming driven by new production categories like web-based TV. The second is that unfortunately, we’ve also seen considerable erosion in the most economically significant production categories.”

Reality TV was up 6.4 percent to 1,554 production days, which makes it the largest contributor to the TV totals. But reality TV shoots were down 4.7 percent from its five-year average.

California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program, according to the report, helped boost the totals. “State-qualified television projects generated 171 (production days) from March through June,” says the report, “comprising 22.7 percent of all TV drama activity. State-qualified television projects in L.A. included Franklin & Bash, Lost Angels, Major Crimes, Perception, Pretty Little Liars, Rizzoli and Isles, Teen Wolf and Switched at Birth.”

Production of feature films was up just one-half of 1 percent in the second quarter to 1,758 production days. Those results are 9.4 percent better than the five-year average for film activity.

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“On-location feature production in L.A. is nowhere near as common as it was in the mid- '90s,” adds Audley, “and despite a good run, we’re still logging fewer days for TV dramas and TV reality series than we used to.”

Features made in the L.A. area that benefited from the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program generated 110 production days in the quarter, comprising 6.3 percent of the total. State-qualified features included Insidious, Lowdown, OT Beach and Ride.

Production of TV commercials was up 4.5 percent in the quarter to 1,986 production days. For the quarter, says the report, commercials were 21.5 percent stronger than the number from the five-year average.

Film L.A. is a private nonprofit organization that functions as the official film office for the city and county of Los Angeles. It provides permits for productions that take place away from the studio lots, provides analysis of activity and works to promote and retain movie and TV production in the greater L.A. area.