Feature production rises, TV slow

With one strike settled and another potentially looming, feature production around Los Angeles is on the rise. TV production, meanwhile, is only slowly returning to normal levels.

According to permitting agency FilmL.A., the number of feature permits issued jumped 61.9% in the three weeks after the writers strike ended compared with the same period last year. The rise isn’t that surprising given the approaching Screen Actors Guild contract deadline; historically, permit activity tends to escalate during periods leading up to labor contract deadlines, the agency noted.

Feature permits have been climbing steadily post-strike but really spiked in the third week. Thirty-four permits were issued that week, double the number in the same week the previous year. Since the strike ended Feb. 12, 68 feature permits have been issued, compared with 42 during the comparable period in 2007.

Now three weeks into the post-strike period, “A run on feature film permits does seem apparent,” the agency said.

TV is gearing back up, but permits still lag far behind typical numbers in every category except reality programming. TV dramas are furthest down, at 73.3% below comparable levels, followed by 61.9% fewer for sitcoms and 47.8% fewer pilot permits. Reality TV permits, meanwhile, climbed 18.9% to 44 in the period.

TV drama permits, while significantly behind normal activity, have risen to the highest post-strike level for scripted TV programming. In the third week after the strike, 10 drama permits were issued, compared with five each for sitcoms and pilots. However, the drama tally that week was less than half the number of that week last year, when 21 TV drama permits were issued. Sitcoms were only slightly off the 2007 tally of seven permits that week.

The agency termed the TV pilot activity troubling, noting that March is normally a very healthy month for their production. The five permits issued the third week after the strike fell far short of the 14 tallied during the same period in 2007.

Commercial activity, meanwhile, was virtually flat the third week after the strike; the cumulative number for the period was 130, the same as the comparable period in 2007.

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