L.A. shoots down 30% in 2009

Overall offlot filming slid 19%

On-location feature filming in Los Angeles plummeted 29.9% last year — and would have sunk even lower if not for a 13.6% hike in fourth-quarter shoots.

Meanwhile, commercials slid 12% last year to 5,292 days but gained 10% in the third quarter and 20% in the fourth — possibly indicating a recovery in the advertising business.

Permitting agency FilmL.A., in a report issued Thursday, credited the California Film and Television Tax Credit program with driving the fourth quarter gain. The incentive program launched in July.

Overall offlot production in all categories slid 19.4% in 2009 to 37,979 days, marking the steepest decline since tracking began in 1993. Feature film production fell to 4,976 days compared with 7,096 in 2008, even with a 25% increase in third-quarter activity.

FilmL.A. said 17 projects that qualified to receive the state credit have already pulled permits to film in the Los Angeles area, including 10 features. Those projects generated nearly 300 days over the last six months of 2009.

Television production slid 16.6% over 2008 to 15,933 days, with the fourth quarter down 33% to 3,224. Reality was off 24% to 5,007 for the year.

Industry sources tell FilmL.A. that many reality shows that filled the gap left by shuttered scripted programs during the WGA strike were not renewed into 2009,” the agency noted.

Sitcoms slid 36.4% to 863 for the year with the agency noting that the skeins may have been more restricted to stages as a result of the increased expense of on-location production.

TV dramas declined 8.6% for the year to 6,154, which the agency said was possibly due to changes in the primetime network schedule, and TV pilots were off 8.3% to 802.

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