On-location filming in the Greater Los Angeles area declined 9.1% between the first quarters of 2018 and 2019, according to data from FilmLA.
A slowdown in the production of feature films, television and commercials contributed to the decrease seen in the first few months of this year. Filmmakers logged 8,843 shoot days from January through March, down from the 9,724 days in the first quarter of 2018.
Feature film production decreased 13% from the first quarter of 2018 to 2019, from 814 to 708 shooting days. Unusual timing seems to be one culprit behind the decline. Only one project brought by the California Film & Tax Credit Program has filmed in Los Angeles since January as other incentivized titles wrapped by the end of last year. There are 10 studio and eight independent projects for the tax credit program poised to start production in the state, the California Film Commission announced in April.
Television dropped from 3,623 shooting days to 3,139 between the years’ first quarters, a decline of 13.4%. Production for pilots (-60.3%), reality shows (-25.2%) and web-based TV (-28.5%) made up the majority of the losses. However, scripted dramas and comedies were up 4.6% and 26.8%, respectively. Some of the larger drama projects that shot in Los Angeles last quarter include “This is Us,” “Legion,” “The Rookie” and “Animal Kingdom.”
According to FilmLA, the drastic decline in TV pilots comes from fewer new projects being made each year, and 2018 saw the fewest new pilots since 2008. In 2019’s first quarter, only 27 pilots filmed on area streets, 10% fewer than 2018’s first quarter.
Shooting days for commercials declined 15.1% from 1,633 to 1,387 days. Historically, commercials have been strong in Los Angeles — the first quarter of 2018 was the most productive quarter on record. FilmLA theorizes that contract talks between SAG-AFTRA and commercial producers may have played a role in the slowdown as higher-budget projects usually film where tax incentive support is available.
Despite the drop, FilmLA expects local filming to increase as the year continues.
“We’ve identified several factors contributing to the slowdown, and in our view, they are not a cause for alarm. Despite 2019’s slower start, we continue to expect that this will be among the most productive-ever years for on-location filming in Los Angeles,” said Paul Audley, president of FilmLA.