Lots of L.A. prod’n

Off-studio work days up 36% during April

Off-lot film production in Los Angeles County generated solid levels of activity in April, jumping 36% from March, while TV production remained robust.

Permitted feature production days totaled 748, an increase of 199 from March and the second-highest total since 2002, according to numbers released Thursday by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. “These are very positive figures,” said EIDC president Steve MacDonald.

The April number reveals no evidence of stockpiling since it’s still well below the totals logged during the first half of 2001, when each month’s activity topped 1,000 days in a production boom created due to fear of work stoppages by the WGA, SAG and AFTRA.

Negotiations broke off Wednesday for the WGA, with talks resuming next week. Guild is seeking a one-year deal while studios want a three-year term.

“We were somewhat surprised that film activity remained relatively strong in April,” noted Steve Dayan, business manager for location managers repped by Teamsters Local 399. “We will probably see some slowing down in May and June, which is fairly typical.”

Features lensing locally in April included “A Lot Like Love,” “Be Cool,” “Christmas With the Kranks,” “Lords of Dogtown” and “Synergy.”

TV activity totaled 1,658 days, the fourth-highest total ever since the EIDC began operations a decade ago and 374 days ahead of April 2003. The figure was 808 days behind the record-setting pace of 2,466 days this past March, fueled by a booming pilot season.

MacDonald said the weak U.S. dollar may have been a factor in keeping film and TV productions in Los Angeles, since it reduces buying power for U.S. producers in foreign territories.

Dayan said April’s TV activity remained high due to the busier-than-usual pilot season plus a consistent level of activity on series TV. Local off-lot activity has been spurred by the growth of cable and reality shows; series shooting locally include “24,” “Alias,” “Charmed,” “Cold Case,” “The Division,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Merge,” “Monk,” “Navy NCIS,” “Nip and Tuck,” “Pimp My Ride” and “Six Feet Under.”

Report also showed moderate performance in commercial shoots with 537 days, down 107 days from March. It was the lowest total since November’s 432 days.

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