Reality boom boosts TV prod’n

Feature filming takes L.A. dip

Feature filmmaking in Los Angeles is cooling down, but TV activity has amped up to record-setting levels thanks to reality shows.

The Los Angeles region saw a 5% decline in off-lot feature activity during the third quarter, more than offset by a 15.5% surge in off-lot TV shooting compared with a year earlier.

Figures released today by the Film L.A. permitting agency reflect the ongoing shift in local production toward the small screen and away from features. Permitted feature days for the third quarter declined by 136 to 2,423 — 35% below the third-quarter peak of 3,744 days in 1997.

Features shot in the Los Angeles region during the third quarter include “Transformers,” “Spider-Man 3” and “Live Free or Die Hard.” Nine-month activity has edged down 1% this year to 6,755 days from the same period of 2005.

Film production on public property in Los Angeles remains well below the levels of a decade ago. Activity for the entire year hit a record of 13,980 days in 1996, then declined for seven consecutive years before rising 19% in 2004 and 9% last year.

Film L.A. also reported third-quarter TV activity hit 5,833 days, by far the busiest quarter on record. TV production in Hollywood has surged over the past decade thanks to reality TV and the growth of cable.

The largest segment of third-quarter activity came from reality TV, which amounted to 41%, with dramas accounting for another 36%. L.A.-based fall TV series included “Ugly Betty,” “Jericho” and “The Nine” as well as cable series “Entourage,” “Sleeper Cell” and “Weeds.”

Nine-month TV activity is 14,843 days, up 2% from the same period of 2005.

Film L.A. prexy Steve MacDonald said film production in Los Angeles has declined because of incentives from Canada and other governments. “While we have been fortunate to host a few high-profile feature films and retain several promising new TV shows, you can’t discount the toll in lost jobs and local spending when features pass on L.A. in favor of lower-cost locales,” he said.

Third-quarter commercial production days edged up 1% to 1,647 following an 11.4% collective loss for commercials during the first two quarters of the year.

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