The actors strike has severely curtailed commercial production on public property in Los Angeles County, with August shoots barely exceeding the record low in July.
Total production days last month amounted to only 215, down 61% from the same month a year ago, according to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.
July’s total of 190 — representing a 66% decline from July 1999 — set a record for the lowest level of production since the EIDC began tracking seven years ago.
EIDC rep Morrie Goldman said ad producers are either shooting outside Los Angeles or on soundstages in order to avoid the disruption of pickets. He also noted that the August shoots were likely hurt by the unavailability of permits for downtown Los Angeles during an 11-day period because of the Democratic National Convention.
Steve Caplan of the Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers said overall production levels remain consistent with pre-strike levels. “Production is strong except for Los Angeles and New York,” he said. “But I believe there is more of an inclination to start shooting again in Los Angeles.”
Production company executives say that Canada, Australia, France, Italy and Spain are the most popular destinations for shooting American spots. “The crews in foreign locations are becoming more accustomed to dealing with American spots,” one exec said.
Some Canadian locations are so booked up that crews are virtually unavailable, said commercial producer Steve Netburn of Angel City Prods. “Nobody wants to deal with picketers, so they’re going to places in the middle of nowhere like Oklahoma,” he added.
Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, which struck advertisers on May 1, insist that overall production levels and quality have declined significantly since the strike started.
Overall Los Angeles production for August was off 19.5% compared with August 1999 as permitted days totaled 2,284. The downtown slowdown affected motion picture shoots, which were off 28% to 737 days, while TV rose 12% to 1,237.