There is good news and bad news for pilot production on the streets and stages of the City of Angeles according to a report released today by the non-profit permitting group. The latter is that L.A. is beneath 50% of total pilot production for the second year in a row. However, says FilmLA, the good news is that the SoCal county’s share of all pilots has eked up 1% from 2013-2014 to 45% this term and is up 2% in TV Dramas to 19% overall. Takeaway line – in a very competitive environment, the home of Hollywood hasn’t lost any ground in the pilot battle with New York, Toronto, Atlanta, Vancouver and the state of Louisiana. The January-April pilot shooting season of this year is the fourth best ever overall for L.A. but saw 10 less pilots than in 2005-05, which was the peak for the region.
And amidst all that, FilmLA’s report reveals a larger context worth considering.
One-hour scripted dramas on network, digital and cable shooting in L.A. have risen to 53 for the 2015-16 period That’s up from the 48 of the 2014-15 period and the highest L.A. has had in 5-years. That is estimated to see a total annual production spend for those dramas in the Golden State of $2.7 billion. The rise is attributed to some extent to the newly expanded California Film and Television tax credits program – which doled out incentives to 22 of the 53 dramas citied. The California Film Commission administered incentives went up to $330 million this year and saw the first round of TV projects selected under the new non-lottery system chosen last month. While having no effect on the pilot figures released by FilmLA, the new incentives program now allows network pilots to be eligible for tax credits for the first time.
Another good sign that production patterns may be shifting was buried deep within the report. After years of runaway production leaving California and L.A. both NYC and Georgia saw pilot production declines of 29% and 33% respectively over the last period.
Of the 202 pilots shoot over the most recent development cycle, FilmLA’s new report has 91 of them being made here in L.A. Of the 111 drama pilots for broadcast, cable and digital services like Netflix and Amazon, 21 of them were shoot in Los Angeles. Out of the 91 comedies, a whooping 70 of them were made in the L.A. Country area. This year saw one less pilot made than in 2014, which was the “most productive on record by a large margin,” says the local-permitting organization. New York had 25 pilots, Vancouver 16, Atlanta 9, Toronto, 9and Louisiana had 8 pilots in 2014-15.
With the vast rise of original content by the steaming services, FilmLA for the first time focused on the number of pilots produced for digital networks in 2014-15. Amazon was No. #1 with 13 pilots of the 26 total. Netflix was next with10 pilots, Hulu© had 2 and Playstation™ Network had 1 pilot over the period. For more math, the group says of the 176 non-digital total pilots, 85 were for cable and 91 were for broadcast networks.