Reality shoots boost TV totals

With much of Hollywood on holiday, last week’s offlot production activity registered mild levels — but well ahead of Christmas week a year ago.

Total permitted production days for features, TV and spots hit 389, up 104 days from the same period in 2010, according to the FilmL.A. permitting agency. The Christmas week represented a sharp drop from the Dec. 12-18 week when total permitted production hit the highest level of the quarter last week with 827 days.

“It’s especially hard to make much of a week’s worth of information at this uncertain time of year,” noted Film L.A. spokesman Philip Sokoloski. “We saw a great deal more television and far less feature activity last week than we did in the same week in 2010.”

Feature activity hit the lowest level of 2011 with just 49 days, 46 fewer days than a year ago. The previous low had been set during Thanksgiving week with 58 days; both holiday weeks were miniscule in comparison with the 2011 highs for the year of 246 days and 229 days during the last two weeks of June.

New features started last week included “Cyber Planet” and “Spreading Darkness.”

As usual, TV represented the lion’s share of local production with 226 days last week, more than double the 2010 period.

“We had quite a few TV reality shows (and a much smaller handful of TV dramas) pulling permits to film at more than one location during the same day,” Sokoloski said. “This is a common permitting trend for reality TV, affording the production team maximum flexibility even as it inflates our numbers. The inflation effect is even more pronounced when shows do this over multiple days within the same week.”

Dramas shot last week included “Bones,” “Touch” and “The Closer” while reality episodes included “Life in L.A.,” “Celebrity Couples,” “Braxton Family Values,” “Real Life” and “Untitled Tenant Show.” New dramas which began shooting include “Zero Dark Thirty” while new reality skeins include “Scarlet Grey,” “Q Viva the Chosen” and “Ryu Challenge.”

Spots last week totalled 114 days, up 28% from Christmas week last year — but less than half the previous frame, when commercials hit a robust 260 days.

FilmL.A. will release the final 2011 total next week, including “other” categories such as music videos that comprise about 25% of offlot filming. The total’s likely to rise from 2010’s 43,646 days, given that the first three quarters of this year saw gains of 4.7%, 1.1% and 15.4% — highlighted by a 50% jump in third quarter feature film activity to 2,079 days.

Offlot activity in Los Angeles posted its most robust numbers in 2008 in the aftermath of the end of the Writers Guild of America strike. Feature filming in the second quarter that year totaled 2,482 days and TV activity totalled 5,765 days.

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