Los Angeles has seen a 13% decline in overall pilot production to 79 due to a 23% slide in sitcom pilots filmed in Hollywood, according to a report released by the FilmL.A. permitting agency.
FilmL.A.’s official count shows that 201 broadcast, cable and digital pilots — 123 dramas and 78 comedies — were produced in North America during the 2015-16 development cycle. That’s just two fewer than the 2013-14 year, which was the most productive on record, and one fewer than last year.
Out of those 201 pilots, 79 projects (25 dramas and 54 comedies) were filmed in the Los Angeles area — giving the region a 39% share of total pilot production, down from 45% last year. New York was the second most-active location with 28 pilots, followed by Vancouver with 25 pilots, Atlanta with 15 and Toronto with 12.
Sitcom pilots declined from 70 to 54, while drama pilot rose from 21 to 25. That’s an encouraging trend, since drama series generate more economic activity than comedies, according to FilmLA president Paul Audley.
“While we were disappointed to see a decline in local comedy pilot production, recent growth in drama pilot and series production is encouraging from the standpoint of overall area jobs and economic benefit,” he said.
The Los Angeles overall share number has been declining in recent years as pilot production grows in competing locations. It’s off significantly from 52% for the 2012-13 season and 61% in 2011-12.
The all time record for pilots shot in Los Angeles was set in the 2004-05 season with 101. Notable pilots that have been shot in Los Angeles in recent years include “American Crime Story,” “American Horror Story,” “Jane the Virgin” and “Ray Donovan.”
The report showed that “Westworld” was generating the most production spending with $107 million, followed by “Teen Wolf” with $80 million, “Rizzoli and Isles” with $67 million and “American Horror Story” with $63 million. “Veep” had the largest cast with 466 while “Murder in the First” had the biggest crew with 240.
The report is being issued at a time when California is in the second year of expanding its tax credit program to keep production in the state. Under the revised program, TV pilots are now able to qualify for the credits.
The FilmL.A. report, released Wednesday, included a specific count of 57 straight-to-series orders. Cable networks put 24 shows into production, while digital networks, such as Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, launched 22 shows.
The report also said half of the state’s current 64 drama series are incentive-qualified projects.
“The California Film and Television Tax Credit program has proven to be a vital tool in the fight against runaway production,” said Los Angeles Mayior Eric Garcetti. “And it is delivering results for the men and women who are the heart and soul of our entertainment industry — the people who swing the hammers, drive the trucks, run the cable, and serve the food on set.”
The current state program provides $330 million in annual tax credits with up to 25% of production costs covered, with credits awarded on the basis of potential jobs created. Prior to last year, the total annual tax credit amounted to $100 million annually.
“This report contains a lot of good news, but it also shows that L.A. is still losing too many good jobs, and too much revenue, to other states,” Garcetti said. “We must continue investing in the future middle class of this city, and commit ourselves to doing all we can to ensure that production stays where it belongs — right here, in the creative capital of the world.”