On-location film and TV production is booming in Los Angeles, thanks in part to the state’s $330 million annual tax incentives program. On-location feature film production was up 23.7% for the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015, and TV production was up 19.1%.
Compared to the average first quarters of each of the last five years, on-location film production was up 22.1%, and TV production was up 17.4%, according to data compiled by FilmLA, the city’s film permit office.
“The very encouraging first quarter numbers from FilmLA demonstrate the impact of California’s expanded tax credit program,” said California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch. “They illustrate that the Film & Television Tax Credit Program 2.0 is working precisely as intended to attract and retain all types of productions, especially TV projects that create steady long-term jobs for cast and crew.”
Even so, the vast majority of the increased production came from films and TV shows that did not receive tax credits. Of the feature film that shot in the city during the first quarter, only 155 shooting days (13.5% of the total 1,145) were generated by films such as God Particle and Please Stand By that received tax incentives.
TV comedies saw the biggest jump in on-location filming, up a whopping 83.2% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first three months last year. Even so, the vast majority of those added shooting days came from non-incentivized productions. Of the comedies’ 557 shooting days during the first quarter of 2016, only 81 days (14.5%) came from tax credit projects, such as HBO’s Veep, which relocated to L.A. from Maryland in 2015.
TV dramas, meanwhile, only posted a 3.1% increase, to 1,091 shooting days, with only slightly more than 1/5 of the increase coming from tax credit projects such as Animal Kingdom, Rosewood, Twin Peaks and Westworld. TV pilot production grew only 2.7% in the first quarter, with just 37 of the 264 total shooting days attributed to tax-incentivized shows such as Bunker Hill, Nineteen and Pitch.
In other words, overall on-location film and TV production would have been up significantly even without the tax incentives. TV commercials, which don’t get any tax incentives, increased by 6.1%, to 1.523 shooting days.
“We predicted we’d see a boost in Feature production in the first quarter thanks to the state tax credit, and we’re glad to see that happening,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “In addition, as the non-incentivized counts show, Los Angeles remains a popular choice among film, television and commercial producers.”
The state’s $330 million annual tax incentives program, which kicked in last summer, replaced a $100 million incentives menu that left many producers hungry and sent them to dine out of state.