On-location filming in Los Angeles set an all-time quarterly record in the fourth quarter of 2021, was double the annual output from 2020 and was up 3.2% from the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to the latest report from FilmLA, the city and county film permit office. Even so, production is off to a slow start again in 2022 because of the ongoing Omicron surge.
“This is an encouraging report by most indicators, but how production will fare in 2022 remains uncertain at this time,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “With the highly contagious Omicron variant driving record Covid-19 cases in Los Angeles County, industry output is also affected. Just as 2021 got off to a slow start, the New Year has filmmakers feeling cautious, with many studios and production companies delaying their return to filming. Our hope is that 2022 follows a similar trajectory as last year – with a slow, responsible start and strong end-of-year finish.”
Read the full report here.
In 2021, on-location filming in and around the city rebounded to 37,709 shoot days – up nearly 100% over the 18,993 shoot-days the year before, when production was devastated by the coronavirus-related production shutdown.
Last year’s fourth quarter saw a record 10,359 shoot days, which was 4% higher than the previous three-month high of 10,359 shoot days set in the fourth quarter of 2018. Last year’s totals also exceeded the pre-pandemic year of 2019’s 36,450 shoot days by 3.2%.
Even so, by year’s end, the region’s 37,709 shoot days finished below the previous peak of 39,627 shoot days in 2016, and below annual totals logged in 2017 (38,284 shoot days) and 2018 (38,795 shoot days). FilmLA defines a shoot day as one crew’s permission to film at one or more defined locations during all or part of any given 24-hour period. FilmLA data does not include production that occurs on certified sound stages or on-location in jurisdictions it doesn’t serve.
Among the major categories of production, the course of the pandemic has had the greatest impact on local feature film production. Last year ended with a total of 3,406 shoot days, which was 19.2% below the pre-Covid average. And last quarter, only 907 shoot days were logged for feature films, which was down 17.3% from the fourth quarter pre-Covid average. Features that filmed locally included four Netflix films – Me Time, Your Place or Mine, The Gray Man and an Untitled Jonah Hill project. Independent films included He Went That Way, Way Down Bundy and Wild Chickens. In the fourth quarter, 317 of the shoot days were on projects that received California’s tax incentives, representing 35% of the category’s total shoot days.
FilmLA noted that “the bright spot in regional production continues to be television,” which for the year posted a record 18,560 shoot day, besting the previous record logged in 2016 by 18%. Nearly one-half of all shoot days recorded by FilmLA in 2021 – 49.2% – were generated by scripted or unscripted television production.
Among the subcategories for television, TV dramas in the last year’s fourth quarter generated 1,294 days, and a total of 5,610 shoot day were generated for the year – representing a 23.8% increase above the previous annual pre-Covid average. Local dramas that shot here this past quarter include All American (The CW), Promised Land (ABC), Snowfall (FX), Euphoria (HBO), Bel-Air (Peacock) and The Flight Attendant (HBO Max).
The TV comedies subcategory, however, continued to decline, finishing the quarter down 40.6% from the pre-Covid annual averages. Locally filmed TV comedies include Home Economics (ABC), Kenan (NBC), Mr. Mayor (NBC), Chad (TBS), Grace and Frankie (Netflix), and Made for Love (HBO Max).
In the fourth quarter, 440 of the shoot days were on television projects that received California’s tax incentives, representing only 8.9% of the category’s shoot days (see chart below).
TV reality shows, which are not eligible for the state’s tax incentives, “Continued to break records as networks and streaming platforms look for additional content to fill in their schedules,” FilmLA noted. Shoot days for TV reality shows generated 9,551 shoot days last year, which is 129.8% above the annual pre-Covid average.
Commercial production ended the fourth quarter with 1,249 shoot days, which was on par with the pre-Covid average for the quarter. For the year, commercial production generated 5,319 shoot days, compared to the annual pre-Covid average of 5,490– a decline of 3.1%.
In FilmLA’s “other” category, which includes still photography, student films, documentaries, music and industrial videos and miscellaneous permitted events, the annual total of 10,424 shoot days remained 23.7% below its pre-Covid average.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.