Pre-strike stockpiling of TV and films in Los Angeles continued at a powerful pace in April, according to figures showing a 31.8% year-to-year jump in production activity on public property.

April feature film production tracked by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. soared 72% to 1,321 production days, reflecting the overwhelming concern over a possible work stoppage. The first four months of 2001 totaled 4,660 days, up 52% over the same period last year.

April’s feature number leaped 24% over March, as studios scrambled to start production on films during the last available window. Although the SAG/AFTRA film-TV contract does not expire until June 30, producers figure they need at least two months to complete work on films, so production execs expect the above-normal pace will begin to drop this month.

TV activity also continued sharply upward, with a 49% year-to-year hike in April production days, bringing the year-to-date total to 4,251 days, up 22% from the same period in 2000.

Waiting for writers

Execs have indicated that only a few features will start production once the Writers Guild of America’s film-TV contract expires today, the starts dropping because of the possibility that WGA members will be unavailable if there is a strike.

In addition, many TV shows are on hiatus, with networks awaiting the outcome of the WGA talks before setting their fall schedules.

In a troubling economic develop-ment, activity in the commercials sector continued to slide, falling to 410 days, down 36% from March, and off 24% from last April. Ad production had been recovering following a massive hit last year due to SAG’s six-month strike, but the decline indicates the overall economy is cooling.