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New York Dethrones Los Angeles in TV Drama Pilot Production

Thanks to runaway production, Los Angeles has lost its leadership in one-hour drama pilot production, according to a report by the FilmL.A. permitting office.

The organization’s 2014 Television Pilot Production Report found that the 2013-14 development cycle saw New York retain 24 drama projects — a convincing lead over the 19 drama projects retained in Los Angeles.

Overall, Los Angeles retained only 90 projects (19 one-hour dramas and 71 half-hour comedies) out of 203 tracked during the 2013-14 development cycle for a share of 44% of pilots. That’s a significant decline from last year’s 52% share and a massive slide from the 2007-08 share of 82%.

The report was issued Tuesday, a day before legislation to boost California’s production incentive program faces a key hearing before the State Senate’s governance and finance committee. California’s current program is smaller — at $100 million in tax credits annually — and narrower than those in competing jurisdictions.

FilmL.A. reported that New York retained 35 total pilots, followed by Vancouver with 17, Atlanta with 12 and Toronto with eight. New York’s program provides producers with $420 million annually in incentive funds.

The report said most of the pilot projects shot outside California were “lucrative” one-hour drama series produced for network, cable, or new media distribution with an estimated cost of $6 million to $8 million to produce and estimated employment of  150-230 people during production. In all, the 91 drama pilots produced outside Los Angeles reduced Hollywood share to 17% of drama projects.

“Losing television pilots – and then series – to other North American competitors leads to the destruction of steady, well-paying California jobs,” said FilmL.A. president Paul Audley.  “California’s current incentive program makes it hard to attract and retain new pilots and TV series.  The data makes plain why an expanded film incentive is needed to bring this part of the industry back.”

Los Angeles continued to dominate in sitcoms, although its share in the 2013-14 development cycle slid to 76% from 83%. The region had a 100% share in comedy pilots seven years ago.

The report estimated that approximately $290 million was spent TV pilot production during the 2013-14 cycle — a 4% gain from $278 million spent in the previous cycle — and 30% of the total amount spent by producers on pilots.

FilmL.A.’s study also noted that the California Film and Television Tax Credit has helped to slightly stem the the tide of runaway production by helping to relocate seven current series to California from other destinations – leading to more than $170 million in qualified production spending.

“None of the series produced in California with the aid of the state’s tax credit have ever left the state in search of a new production location,” the report noted.

Those series include “Pretty Little Liars,” which moved from Vancouver and has spent $40.2 million in California this fiscal year; “Teen Wolf,” which came from Atlanta and spent $24.1 million; and “Justified,” which came from Pennsylvania and spent $29.5 million in California.

The study also found that the 2013-14 development cycle saw 38 network, cable and new media shows skip traditional pilot testing and instead go “straight to series”  — 3o in one-hour dramas (10 broadcast, and 20 between cable and new media) and eight in half-hour comedies (three broadcast, and five between cable and new media).

California’s production incentives are smaller than other states with a maximum tax credit of 25% and a total of $100 million available annually with demand far exceeding supply and TV series dominating — since once a series receives the credit, it remains on the allocation list as long as it stays eligible by shooting in California.

There are 63 projects receiving allocations from the state program’s current fiscal year, led by “Major Crimes” with $9.1 million followed “Rizzoli & Isles” with $8.55 million, Paramount’s reboot of “Baywatch” with $8.4 million and  “Pretty Little Liars” with $8.04 million.



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