Commercials, pilots fuel first quarter shooting days increase

After a long decline, filming in and around Los Angeles was up 18% from the same period last year in the first three months of 2010, according to FilmL.A.

An uptick in pilot production helped television production grow 14%, while permits for commercials were up a sizeable 61%.

Feature films held steady, showing a slight uptick at 1%. The narrow gain is partly attributable to the state’s new production tax credit, according to FilmL.A.

A non-profit org, FilmL.A. tracks the number of filming permits issued for the city and county of L.A., as well as for surrounding jurisdictions.

It’s the first overall gain FilmL.A. has recorded in at least two years, but veepee of communications Todd Lindgren cautioned that “one quarter does not a rosy picture make.”

A total of 11,087 production days were recorded for the first quarter of 2010, compared to 9,408 for the same period a year ago.

Feature film permits totalled 929, with 11 of the features that received permits taking part in the new California Film and Television Tax Credit, which took effect July 1, 2009.

“I can say with certainty that most, if not all, of the incentivized feature films would not have shot in California, were it not for our tax credit program,” California Film Commission director Amy Lemisch said. The commission administers the program.

FilmL.A. prexy Paul Audley said new city production initiatives now being implemented should further help to keep film production in L.A.

Television production in L.A. had recorded three quarters of double-digit losses before jumping 14% in the first quarter. Pilots and reality shows showed the biggest jumps, seeing gains of 42% and 38%, respectively. However, sitcoms and dramas remained soft, dipping 17% and 6%, respectively.

Pilot production was more robust than expected, according to FilmL.A. Of the 129 projects that FilmL.A. tracked, 76 were filmed in Los Angeles, giving the region a 59% marketshare. This was slightly better than last year’s marketshare of 57%.

Commercials, which have been especially hard-hit by the recession, got a second wind in the first quarter.

“We know we have to compete with other production-hungry locales, and we are working to ensure the best place to produce movies and TV shows is right here at home in Los Angeles,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement.

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