What stockpiling? L.A. prod'n lulls

Q3 report shows fewer shooting days than last year

FilmL.A.'s latest report on location activity draws a surprising conclusion: The studios' rush to accelerate film and TV production because of strike fears was largely over by the third quarter.

FilmL.A., which offers film-permitting and other location services, said there were 6.5% fewer on-location production days recorded in the July-September quarter compared with the same period a year ago.

The 9,930 reported days — defined as one crew working at one location during a 24-hour period — does not include soundstage activity. FilmL.A. estimates that soundstage work accounts for another 20% of the entire regional film and TV production picture.

FilmL.A. president Steve MacDonald said the latest location figures seem to dispel the notion that fears of a strike by the WGA would keep the town humming until the Wednesday expiration of the guild's contract.

"All we have heard in recent months is that production should continue to increase as the contract talks intensify, but we just didn't see this happen during third quarter," MacDonald said.

The WGA continues its talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. But the negotiations haven't gone well, and the guild recently got the OK from membership to strike at any point after its contract expires.

"The third-quarter numbers do not show the increased level of production evident during the second quarter," FilmL.A. said. "As talks have continued between producers and writers, such so-called stockpiling was anticipated by many in the industry, particularly with respect to the TV industry."

Indeed, in the second quarter, FilmL.A. recorded a whopping 21% surge in production activity compared with a year ago.

In the latest quarter, television activity did climb 2% compared with a year ago — at a recorded 5,833 permit days — but that uptick was fueled entirely by an almost 43% increase in third-quarter pilot production. Sitcoms were off 16.1%, dramas were down 12.1%, and reality programs dipped 0.8%.

Los Angeles-area movie production continued a long-term slide, tumbling almost 22% to 1,897 days.

On-location commercial production fell more than 14% to 1,434 days.