Nearly three years into California’s revamped and expanded $330 million film and television tax credit program, feature production in Los Angeles took a big hit in the early months of 2017, according to FilmLA.
Falling to levels not seen since 2012, on-location film production was down a harsh 36.3% in the first quarter compared with the same time period in 2016. Despite tentpoles like Disney’s and director Ava DuVernay’s now-wrapped A Wrinkle In Time being awarded the tax incentives last year and working in the county, the nonprofit permitting body had no real explanation for the crash. “Feature production levels are proving highly cyclical and difficult to evaluate on a quarter-by-quarter basis,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said about today’s disappointing data. “Last year local Feature production hit a seven-year high — so trendspotting in this segment requires a deeper dive.”
Also coming off an overall 2016 that saw record levels of on-location production almost across the board, the steep decline in feature film shooting days from Q1 2016 was not the only double-digit hit.
While overall Q1 2017 production was pretty steady with the same period last year, with a mere 2.1% dip, TV Pilots got whacked down 15.5% from Q1 2016. Rubbing sandpaper on that raw wound, as you can see on these charts, those 223 shoot days also are down 17.1% on the five-year average for that category. Looking at other aspects of the TV business, Dramas stumbled 8.4% from Q1 2016 but actually were up 4.1% over the five-year average. As stage availability and location managers around town can tell you themselves, TV Comedies certainly are up, and the FilmLA stats back that up too. The category rose 9.2% in shoot days in Q1 2017 over last year and had a strong 37.2% increase over the five-year average. TV Reality was basically the same as last year with 1,162 shoot days or a 0.9% increase.
Put together, on-location TV production was virtually the same as Q1 2016 with a tiny 0.6% slip. With all that math, there is one piece of data that looks promising, especially with the recent indications that Netflix is aiming to consolidate its output in and around Tinseltown: TV production in L.A. is up 10.3% over the five-year average.
In that perspective, the next application round to the California Film Commission for tax credits for TV projects runs May 22-29, with an announcement expected around July 1 on who the lucky ones are. The latest film round recipients were revealed in February, with the new version of A Star Is Born and a Clint Eastwood-directed pic among the projects getting a piece of the $100 million on the table. Another film round will be open from June 19-27, with winners announced around July 24.