Reality drives L.A. production increase

Los Angeles feature, TV prod'n activity rises

The Los Angeles region saw a 9% rise in off-lot feature activity during the first quarter along with a 7% gain in TV shooting, the Film L.A. agency has reported.

Permitted feature days rose by 196 to 2,386 — though the figure was well below the first-quarter peak of 3,178 days in 1996. Film production on public property in Los Angeles declined for seven consecutive years from 1997 to 2003, then rose 19% in 2004 and 9% last year.

First-quarter TV activity increased by 7% over the 2005 period to 4,996 days, a figure that eclipsed the record-setting 2004 first quarter by 22 days. Film L.A. noted that the most recent gains stemmed almost solely from a 127.7% spike in reality TV production to 1,942 days.

The permitting agency said dramas increased 6.8%, but sitcoms slid 65% to 255 days and pilots declined 7.7% to 722. Film L.A. prez Steve MacDonald expressed concerns over the tilt toward reality.

“The big jump in the reality sector, which tends to have lower budgets and less of an economic impact, helped to shore up our numbers,” says MacDonald, “While the figures might suggest that L.A. is holding its own, a look at other jurisdictions provides a different perspective.”

MacDonald cited a 35% hike in New York City production days last year and pointed to production spending increases during 2005 of 36% in Louisiana, 28% in Illinois and 348% in New Mexico. “When you take into account that other regions are just beginning to develop a talent pool and long-term infrastructure, L.A.’s modest growth is not that encouraging,” he added.

Film L.A. also reported that off-lot commercial production decreased 7% to 1,896 in the first quarter.

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