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.
While 83% of comedy pilots, down from last year’s 91%, were shot in Los Angeles County, more expensive and economically impactful one-hour dramas continued their exodus. The vast majority of the 90 pilots made outside LA were hourlong dramas; this year saw 75 such projects produced outside the region, up from the 60 of last year. A small glimmer of local hope is that at least one of those pilots is now coming to LA: Initially shooting in Canada, the CBS Studios-produced King And Maxwell was picked for a 25% Relocating TV Series award in this year’s California Tax Credit Lottery.