They’re not quite ready to declare the production state of emergency in the City of Angels over, but today even the notorious pessimistic FilmLA saw things looking up – especially in the TV categories. A Q2 2014 report released by the nonprofit permitting group this morning said total on-location television production in LA County roared up 33.7% over the same quarter last year to 5,761 PPD. The report attributes the “ unseasonably strong” results to shifting production schedules as broadcasters get episode of shows like the upcoming TNT series, Legends in shape for summer airing. The news was nowhere near as good today when it came to feature film production in L.A. County this quarter compared to Q2 2013 but minimal ground was lost, which is a victory unto itself as the region as been hit so hard by runaway production in recent years. Quarter-to-quarter, year-to-year, Q2 2014 dipped 5.3% from Q2 2013 to 1,665 PPD. That reasonably steady result gets a bit sour when you look at Q1 2014. That quarter saw a 24.2% rise compared to the year before for features. However, this quarter, both features and TV production exceed their respective 5-year quarterly average with the former up a mere 0.1% while the latter rocketed up 34.0%.
It isn’t the golden days of the 1990s, but FilmLA. reports today that feature film production is on the rise in Los Angeles while TV production slipped from last year. A Q1 2014 report released today by the nonprofit permitting group said on-location feature production in LA County jumped 24.2% over Q1 2013 and that the category had a big leap of 39.4% over its five-year quarterly average. Despite the small number of tentpole pics made in California and the lure of hefty incentives in other states like Louisiana and NY as well as Canada and the UK, the latest results build on similar advances in past quarters and shows increasing traction from the all-time lows of 2009.
It is no coincidence that 2009 was also the same year California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program was first introduced. With overall production steady with Q1 2013 and legislation presently moving ahead in Sacramento to expand and evolve the program, FilmLA today praised California’s incentives as helping to stem the tsunami of exiting production. “This quarter’s report hints at what would be possible if California were to truly step up and compete for new film projects and jobs,” said the organization’s President Paul Audley in a statement. “Just imagine where we could be five years from now if current efforts to expand the state’s incentive program are successful.”
The latest FilmLA survey puts some numbers on the losses Hollywood’s suffered from the proliferation of tax incentives in other states and countries in the past two decades. Although feature production has bounced back from 2009′s all-time low thanks to that year’s introduction of the CA Film & TV Tax Credit, only two $100M+ productions of 2013 were filmed in L.A. with California-based films accounting for just 9% of all feature production. Year over year local feature production was up 19% in 2013 from 2012 – still just half as robust as it was in 1996. On the small screen side, local TV drama production recovered slightly from its worst-ever 2012 showing, up 16% but still 39% below its peak in 2008, while sitcom production increased by 8% over 2012. Thanks to original programming pushes by companies like Netflix and Amazon, TV pilot production hit a record high although L.A. filming accounted for just 52%, compared to 82% in 2008.
Big changes could be coming to California’s annual $100 million film and TV tax credit program next year. “Entertainment is important to the state, it is billions of dollars of revenue to the state but the reason we do a state tax credit is jobs”, said state Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media chair Ian Calderon this morning during an oversight hearing at SAG-AFTRA headquarters. “We took a baby step, we need to take a larger step — we are California and we are losing our signature industry,” the Democrat added of the program first introduced in 2009 to stop runaway production. That larger step could see the next bill placed before the Legislature in Sacramento with millions in additional funding, I’m told. There is also talk in political circles of extending the program for five years instead of the usual two. Perhaps most significantly, the committees today openly talked about reorganizing the way the tax credit works to remove current limitations such as the cap that prevent films budgeted at more than $75 million from being eligible. “The UK is killing us in terms in getting our tentpole movies shooting there,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch. She also noted how Vancouver and incentive-rich states such as Georgia and North Carolina are getting the bulk of the blockbuster business.
Co-chaired by Raul Bocanega of the Assembly’s Committees on Revenue & Taxation, the progress report hearing also heard from labor and business leaders. Surprisingly, newly appointed LA Film Czar Tom Sherak was not in attendance. With the exception of Warner Horizon TV’s SVP of Production Kevin Fortson, also absent were reps from the studios and broadcasters. Speaker after speaker asserted that the program needed more money and the certainty of long-term stability.
It isn’t the halcyon days of the mid-1990s, but production in Los Angeles has had a good 2013 so far. For the third quarter in a row, on-location filming is up compared with 2012, FilmL.A. said today. There was a 9.5% increase over the same July to September period last year according to a third quarter report the non-profit permitting group released Tuesday. That translates into 11,792 permitted production days compared to 10,773 in Q3 2012. Not that FilmL.A. is opening the champagne. “The small incremental increases are a good sign, but they do not represent a true recovery. We are not seeing a return of the high economic value productions to Los Angeles. Instead, we are seeing an increase in new media, like direct-to-web production, and very low budget films,” FilmL.A. president Paul Audley told me today. Low-budget film or not, Feature production in L.A. County and nearby regions saw the biggest bounce among the categories that FilmL.A. tracks. The category had a 19.5% jump (1,959 PPD) over Q3 2012. Perhaps more telling in this era of runaway production is that Feature production in Southern California beat its 5-year quarterly average by 14.6%. Now that’s still a steep fall from the record-setting 13,980 total PPD of 1996 and before states like Georgia and Louisiana ramped up alluring tax incentives programs to attract production.
Things are looking up a bit production-wise in LA County says FilmLA. On-location production rose 8.6% over the same period last year said the non-profit permitting group in a second quarter report released Tuesday. While features production inched up just half of a percentage from last year, the biggest bump was in the TV category which rose 26.6% from 2Q 2012 to 4,310 PPD. “Television is the really the growth area this quarter. In the case of TV Dramas, it’s just getting us back to where we were before the disaster that was 2012. We’re also seeing growth in new areas, like Web TV. We’re happy to have these new projects here, but we recognize that the job and spending impacts aren’t the same,” FilmLA President Paul Audley told me today. On his inaugural address upon being sworn into office on June 30, new LA Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged to curb runaway productions taking work out of LA and appoint a Film Czar to coordinate the film industry’s relationship with the city. Back in February, LA CIty Council unanimously passed a measures to eliminating fees that TV pilots pay to film in the city and waive similar fees for the first year for any LA-filmed pilot that is picked up to series. Garcetti first introduced the measures back in 2012.
Overall, FilmLA’s report estimates that there were 12,173 PPD in the second quarter of 2013 as compared to 11,209 PPD during …
Pilot production in LA is up for the 2012-2013 season, but the region’s market share hit near record lows, according to a report released today by FilmLA. Additionally, the non-profit permitting group says that California’s $100 million a year Film & TV Tax Credit program has only stopped “a tiny amount of runaway production.” In its wide-ranging ninth annual TV Pilot Production Report, FilmLA mixes a lot of the good news with the bad. The good news is that $277.8 million was spent in the region during pilot season, up from the $262 million paid out last year. Production days were up 40% from the last pilot production cycle of the comparable January 1-June 10 period last year. And the group says that 96 of the 186 broadcast and cable pilots produced during the cycle were made in LA. “By one measure, this is the second largest annual tally in Los Angeles’ history, totaling four projects more than the prior cycle and just six fewer than L.A. handled during its peak year of ’04/’05. Indeed, the Los Angeles region saw a large increase in the amount of on-location pilot filming,” says the report.
The bad news is that only 52% of the pilots that were produced this year were made in Los Angeles. While not the all-time low of 51% from 2011, the results are down almost double digits from the 61% of last year and way down from the 82% peak hit in 2007. Just 22% of drama pilots were shot in LA, with many moving across the county or to Canada. “After L.A., the top four competitors for pilot production in ’12/’13 were New York (19 pilots), Vancouver (15 pilots), Atlanta (9 pilots) and Toronto (6 pilots). Trailing the top four were New Orleans and Chicago, which each hosted five pilots,” today’s report notes.
Following several years of declines in the number of drama pilots shot in Los Angeles, the City of Angels staged a comeback this season with 14, reclaiming the top spot as the most popular drama pilot destination after falling for the first time to No. 3 last year behind New York and Vancouver. Los Angeles benefited from the increased overall pilot volume this season, housing 13 of this year’s 48 hourlong pilots, up from 8 (out of 41) last year and 11 (out of 42) the year before, and just short of the 2010 haul of 14 pilots (out of 43).
New York, fresh off luring back The Tonight Show, has become a comedy pilot magnet. The Big Apple already has solid comedy credentials on the cable side with FX’s Louie and HBO’s Girls, but I can’t think of any major half-hour broadcast pilot shot in New York since NBC’s 30 Rock, which just ended its seven-season run. This year, there were a whopping five (all single-camera): NBC’s Michael J. Fox project, which has straight-to-series order, and Assistance; CBS’ Jim Gaffigan and untitled Rottenberg & Zuritzsky project; and Fox’s Us And Them. In some cases, the choice of location was dictated by talent (like Fox). In others, the producers felt it was hard to fake New York or the East Coast in Los Angeles, where virtually all comedy broadcast series have been filming. The 2010 New York filming tax program, which already led to the explosion of NY drama pilot production from zero pilots in 2010 to 11 last year, is helping rein in production costs, which are still higher than a Los Angeles-based half-hour pilot but not by as much as before. With the comedy boon, New York managed to post a new record of 13 pilots, though the number of dramas slipped from 11 to eight.
After years of decline and a few small rises, production is strongly up in LA according to FilmLA. In its 1st Quarter report, the non-profit permitting group says overall production in LA County rose by 17.6% over the 1st Quarter of 2012. FilmLA’s data comes from filming permits for shooting on streets, non-certified sound stages and in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The organization had Q1 2013 with 13,361 permitted production days over 11,360 in the same period in 2012. Feature production in LA was up the most of all the categories with a 25.5% rise over Q1 2012. What is especially noteworthy of that upward turn is that the quarter is usually a slower time for feature production in LA so that big a rise could be a strong indicator of the beginning of a significant change. The previously downward turning on-location Television production was also up double digits over last year. The category rose 19.0% in Q1 2013 over 1Q 2012. Of all the Television subcategories, TV Pilots were up the most with a 37.3% rise over last year for 460 PPD. With the first quarter of the year typically being when most pilots are made, the rise is significant. The overall rise in TV production is the best Q1 TV production has had in six years, according to FilmLA.
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
Medient Studios, a Los Angeles-based production and distribution outfit with a presence in India, has announced plans to build a $90 million movie studio near Savannah, GA in a deal cleared this week by the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. Although the deal may end up being good for Georgia, it comes during a precarious time for the Los Angeles-based entertainment economy — even with large-scale expansions underway at NBC Universal, Disney, and Paramount.
Despite an overall increase in movie, TV and commercial production, Los Angeles saw a steep drop in television drama and reality TV production in 2012, a problem the city has attempted to address at least partially by eliminating fees for pilot production. And places like New York, Louisiana, and Michigan as well as Georgia continue to pursue production business aggressively.
“Of course, we’d prefer these kinds of investments be made in the State of California instead of in Georgia,” FilmLA VP of Integrated Communications Philllip Sokoloski told Deadline. “Although the L.A. region has its own studio developments in progress, infrastructure development elsewhere can only intensify the competition we face for valuable film projects and jobs.”
The Los Angeles City Council today unanimously passed a measure eliminating fees that TV pilots pay to film in the city. The politicians also passed a measure to waive similar fees for the first year for any LA-filmed pilot that is picked up to series. Proposed last year by councilman and Hollywood-friendly mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, the measures are designed to stop the siphoning of production and jobs from LA to other cities and regions. Permitting organization FilmLA says 92 pilots were produced in LA last year out of a total of 152.
FilmLA said today that it has brought on board a former Cox Communications executive and Hermosa Beach mayor to lead its advocacy and government relations efforts. Art Yoon joins LA’s location permitting nonprofit in the newly created post of EVP. Previously, he was Cox’s director of public affairs. “Art impressed us during a rigorous application process involving an applicant pool of more than 150. I am excited about adding Art to our team and know that his experiences and service-oriented nature will make him a valued member of the Los Angeles film community,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said in a statement. In its regular reports on the state of the industry in LA County, FilmLA has long argued for new and improved government incentives and programs to keep and attract filming in the region.
2012 was a rollercoaster of a year for production in Los Angeles County, said FilmLA today. In its end of year report, the non-profit permitting group noted that while overall on-location production in LA County rose a meager 1.7% from 2011, TV Drama fell a harsh 20% from the year before. FilmLA’s data comes from filming permits for shooting on streets, non-certified sound stages and in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. With the likes of the upcoming LA-set Gangster Squad actually filming in LA, 2012 Feature production saw a slight 3.7% rise over 2011 with 5,892 PPD as compared to the 5,682 of the year before. That is actually the best year since 2008 before the state passed the California Film & TV Tax Credit Program, which now hands out up to $100 million a year in a lottery system. On the flipside, the drop in Drama-permitted days and the 11.8% slide in the TV Reality category pulled overall TV production in the region down 3.4% with 16,762 permitted days in 2012 compared to the 17,349 PPD in 2011. However, TV Sitcom filming was up 52.9% with 2,048 PPD compared to 2011’s 1,339 PPD. TV Pilots were up 2.2% from 2011. Commercials rose 14.1% in 2012 over the year before.
The non-profit permitting group said today that overall on-location production in LA County slipped 3.9% from the same quarter last year. A big part of that fall is from on-location feature film production dipping 21.1% for the quarter. That’s in stark contrast to the rise film production had during 2012’s first and second quarters. Those periods saw features up 16% and 9%, respectively. While features fell, two categories jumped up significantly: The relatively new category of webisodes was up 148% over the same period last year. Now making up 9% of annual TV production in LA, webisodes saw 423 permitted production days for the quarter. TV sitcoms, which make up around 11% of TV production, were also up, rising 47.6% from the same quarter last year to 608 permitted days.
The report released today from nonprofit FilmLA shows that 152 broadcast and cable pilots were produced during the 2011-2012 development cycle, the second most productive year ever. Of those, 92 were filmed in the LA area, the second-biggest total in history after the 101 filmed here in 2004-2005. (Last year, 87 pilots were filmed in LA.) The biggest boost as usual came from comedy pilots (91% of all sitcoms were shot locally). But dramas continue their decline: Only 29% of filmed drama productions shot in LA, compared with 63% in 2006-2007 and 38% in 2008-2009. FilmLA cites competing incentives as a main reason for the exodus: 53 one-hour drama projects were shot this cycle outside LA in Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, as well as in Canada and Australia. “Some form of production incentive was available in every one of the non-California locations used during the ’11/’12 development cycle”, the report said. (Read it here.) FilmLA estimates that $262 million was spent on TV pilot production in LA in 2011-2012, with costs breaking down to about $2 million to shoot a comedy and $5.5 million for a drama.
On-location filming in Los Angeles grew 1.1% during the second quarter compared with last year, held down in part by a sharp drop in commercials production following a 21-month surge in the category. FilmLA said in its report that TV production days dipped slightly overall in the City of Los Angeles, the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County and other local jurisdictions, led by losses in the sitcom and reality subcategories. Feature production grew 4%, though LA saw less impact from the California Film & Television Tax Credit program; only five projects receiving credits shot during the quarter, compared with 16 projects a year ago that accounted for 27% of feature production. “We expect to see Features get a boost as a new crop of incentivized projects hits the streets,” FilmLA president Paul Audley said. “Unfortunately, the momentum we carried in television may be gone. A lot of the new shows you’ll see this fall won’t be filming in California. As a result, we’re expecting a lackluster second half of the year for TV.”
Shooting-permit organization FilmL.A. said today that on-location filming in all production categories increased 4.7% during the first quarter of 2011, the fifth consecutive quarter of gains in the region that includes the City of Los Angeles, parts of unincorporated Los Angeles County and other local jurisdictions. Still, feature film shoots declined 5.3% and TV fell 3.7%, as the bulk of overall gains in production days came from smaller projects like music videos, industrial videos and student films (up 21.5%) and commercials (up 2.4%). “The latest data suggest a softness in the industry, but not a full loss of momentum,” FilmL.A. chair Ed Duffy said. “Pilot production is up, and we have a couple big features in production, so we’re optimistic about a better set of numbers come July.”