Despite California’s $330 million annual film incentives program, on-location feature film shooting days in Los Angeles are continuing their precipitous slide this year, plummeting 24.7% in the third quarter compared to the same frame last year. And that’s on top of a 16.7% drop in the second quarter and a 13% decline in Q1. On-location feature film production “has generally struggled in 2019,” according to FilmLA, the city’s film permit office.
Overall, on-location shooting days on all types of productions fell by 5.2% in the third quarter, which comes after a 3.9% slide in the second quarter and a 9.1% decline in the first. The data does not include productions shot on certified soundstages or on-location in jurisdictions not served by FilmLA.
“Given what we know about the L.A. production scene, the Q3 report omits much of the story,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “Earlier this month, our research group published a report revealing L.A.’s significant capture of the scripted television production market. Meanwhile, union officials assure us there are ample work opportunities for local crews. We can only surmise that there is significant filming confined to area soundstages or taking place in adjoining cities where the activity is not tracked.”
See all of FilmLA’s 2018-19 Q3 charts here.
No doubt, California’s generous tax incentives have helped attract many productions to the state, or helped to keep them here, but according to FilmLA, only 7.3% of the on-location feature film shoot days received the tax breaks in the third quarter. Those incentivized films include Bliss, Covers, Revenge and The Little Things. Only 72 of the 980 shooting days in this category were incentivized.
On-location television production also was down 9.9% during the third quarter compared with last year, though more than four out of every 10 TV drama shoot days (435 days in total) came from incentivized series. Those incentivized projects include American Horror Story: 1984, Good Girls, Good Trouble, Lucifer, Mayans M.C., Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, Perry Mason, Star Trek: Picard, S.W.A.T., The Rookie, This Is Us, Westworld and Why Women Kill.
“However under-representative the Q3 figures may be,” FilmLA said, “within the data it remains easy to see the positive impact of the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program.”
TV comedies were up a whopping 45.6% in the third quarter, but TV dramas were down 28.6%. TV reality shows were down 6.7% in the quarter, and TV pilots were off by 19.2%. Web-based shows were down 8.7% in the quarter, and TV commercials were off by 5%.
Feature films fell to 980 shoot days in this third quarter, down from 1,301 in Q3 last year. Television shows fell to 3,691 shoot days this quarter, down from 4,095 last year; and commercials, which FilmLA noted “has also struggled this year,” dropped to 1,330 days this quarter, down from 1,400 last year. TV comedies, however, rose from 518 days in last year’s third quarter to 754 days in the latest quarter.
The five-year average of third quarters also is down overall on all location shoots (-3.3%), for feature films (-13.9%), television (-10.1%), TV dramas (-16.9%), TV reality (-10.1%), TV pilots (-31.8%) and Web-based productions (-25.2%). The five-year average for TV comedies, however, shows a 27.8% increase, with commercials up less than 1%. The five-year average of shoot days for projects classified as “Other” — which includes student films, still photography, music videos and industrial videos — is up 7.4%.
FilmLA defines one “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.