TV shoots decline amid runaway production, incentives in other states

Hollywood’s offlot production of features rose 5.7% in 2011 but TV activity slid 2.7% due to a disappointing fall production season as runaway production took its toll on local shoots.

Permitting agency FilmLA reported Tuesday that overall offlot production increased 4.2% last year to 45,484 permitted days. FilmL.A. president Paul Audley said the region can’t count on TV being shot in Los Angeles.

“While we are relieved to see annual gains in overall production days, we cannot take any growth for granted,” Audley said. “We must fight to keep and attract more feature films and high-value television series to keep our vendor companies and crews working and our region’s economy afloat.”

Feature production totalled 5,682 days with the 5.7% yearly boost due largely to a 50% surge in the third quarter; fourth-quarter production plunged 26%. Films that qualified for the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program generated 652 days in the Los Angeles region last year — 11.5% of the annual total.

The most notable feature to shoot in Los Angeles was “Magnus Rex” — actually the location name for Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” Other films of note to shoot locally included “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III,” “Argo,” “Breaking the Girl,” “Cyber Planet,” “Decoding Annie Parker,” “Gangster Squad,” “My Mother’s Curse,” “Savages,” “Seven Psychopaths,” “Sports Camp,” “Think Like a Man,” “This Is 40,” “We Have Your Husband” and “Welcome to People.”

Television — the largest component of offlot production — declined by nearly 500 days to 17,349 days. The fourth quarter represented the biggest decline, posting a 10.6% drop due to the loss of 10 one-hour TV drama series to other states, with FilmL.A. noting that the state of New York is having a record TV season since it offers more than four times the amount of funding available in filming tax credits than does California.

L.A.-area production in the commercials category increased 4.4% to 7,079 days, setting a yearly high by topping the 2005 record by 96 days.

The “other” category, which inlcudes musicvids, rose 12.% to 15,374 days. Overall offlot production still lags the 2008 total of 47,117 permitted days but has improved from the 2009 total of 37,979 days.

Calfornia Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes is developing legislation that would extend California’s film production incentive program, and he said he plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session. The four-year-old program has allocated $400 million of credits and will allocate another $100 million in July plus another $100 million to be allocated in July 2013.

California’s program, which offers a maximum rebate of 25%, is far smaller than those of other states. New York announced in August that a record 23 series were lensing in the state on the heels of its legislature’s five-year renewal of the film incentive tax program there, which offers a 30% refundable state tax credit, capped at $420 million per year; New York City offers an additional 5% refundable credit, capped annually at $30 million.

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