On-location filming took a nosedive in Los Angeles last year, with feature films, TV pilots and reality shows all hitting five-year lows despite the $330 million in annual tax incentives offered by the state.
Compared to 2016, the number of on-location shooting days on feature films fell by 19.8%; TV shows were down 7.6%; Web-based TV shows slipped 9.2%, and TV pilots plummeted 40.2%. Check out the report in chart form here.
Despite the gloomy numbers, 2017 proved to be the second-best year of on-location production in the city, falling just 3.4% below the record levels set in 2016. Last year, L.A. saw 38,284 on-location shooting days, defined as one crew’s permission to film at one or more location served by FilmLA, the city’s film permit office, during a 24-hour period. The data does not include on-the-lot filming at the major studios and networks or on certified sound stages.
According to FilmLA, Los Angeles-area sound stage occupancy remains above 92%, and on-location filming levels in 2017 “remained high” despite finishing below 2016 totals.
“Our ability to achieve and sustain a high level of production over the past few years is substantially due to the California Film and Television Tax Credit – which is creating thousands of jobs and returning high economic benefits to California,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley.
Incentive-linked features filming on-location in Los Angeles include Destroyer, A Wrinkle in Time, Bumblebee and Ad Astra. Together, they received more than $45 million in state incentives.
FilmLA noted that while the total number of feature shoot days was down last year, “the economic value of projects in this category may be increasing over time. Feature projects that qualify for California’s Film & Television Tax Credit tend to generate larger job and spending impacts than non-incentive-linked projects.” Last year, 61 feature projects filmed in Los Angeles, including 19 incentive-linked projects with a cast and crew count above 75 persons on-location – or nearly twice the number of incentive-linked, similarly-sized projects the region captured in 2016.
Incentive-linked TV projects that filmed in 2017 include This Is Us, S.W.A.T., Westworld, Lucifer, Shooter and the TV pilot Mayans. Since 2016, these shows have received more than $88 million in tax-payer subsidies.
Commercials, which are not eligible for tax incentives, was the only sector to see a major increase last year compared to 2016 – increasing by 9% to 5,548 shooting days. According to FilmLA, this was the strongest annual showing for commercials that it’s ever observed.
Television production remains by far the largest sector of on-location filming in the city, accounting for 15,218 shooting days last year – compared to only 3,901 shooting days for feature films. Broken down by categories, TV dramas accounted for 4,385 shooting days; TV comedies generated 2,155 shooting days; Web-based TV shows created 1,918 shooting days, and TV pilots only produced 441 shooting days.
The second largest sector – listed as “Other” – accounted for 13,617 shooting days. This sector includes still photography, student films, music videos, documentaries and industrial videos – none of which are eligible for tax credits.