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On-Location Los Angeles Filming Falls 5.2% in Third Quarter

Overall on-location filming in Greater Los Angeles declined 5.2% from July through September, according to a report released Thursday by the FilmLA permitting agency.

Officials said they were not concerned about the decline in shoot days to 9,226, noting that it was due partly to near-record activity levels in 2018 quarter and to an apparent preference by production companies for using studio soundstages rather than shooting outside studio lots. FilmLA researchers characterized the report as atypical, and unusually at odds with other production indicators and local employment trends.

“Given what we know about the LA production scene, the Q3 report omits much of the story,” said Paul Audley, FilmLA president. “Earlier this month, our research group published a report revealing LA’s significant capture of the scripted television production market. Meanwhile, union officials assure us there are ample work opportunities for local crews. We can only surmise that there is significant filming confined to area sound stages, or taking place in adjoining cities where the activity is not tracked.”

In FilmLA’s television category, TV comedy production was the one exception to the downturns, soaring 45.6% to 754 shooting days. TV drama production declined for the first time this year, falling 28.6% to 1,069 SD. TV pilots were down 19.2% to 63; web-based TV was off 8.7% to 346; and TV reality slid 6.7% to 1,051.

More than four out of every 10 TV drama shoot days came from series that are participating in the state’s film tax credit incentive. Recent participants include “American Horror Story: 1984,” “Good Girls,” “Good Trouble,” “Lucifer,” “Mayans MC,” “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” “Perry Mason,” “Star Trek: Picard,” “S.W.A.T.,” “The Rookie,” “This is Us,” “Westworld” and “Why Women Kill.”

Feature film production, which has generally struggled in 2019, dropped 24.7% to 980 shooting days. Film projects brought to Los Angeles by California’s film incentive contributed 72 days in the feature category in the third quarter. Incentivized features recently filmed include “Bliss,” “Covers,” “Revenge” and “The Little Things.”

Commercial production, which has also struggled this year, slid 5% percent in the third quarter to 1,330 days.

In July 2018, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an extension of California’s production tax credit program for five years beyond its 2020 expiration, with $1.6 billion in credits. The program more than tripled in size in 2014 to $330 million annually to compete effectively with incentives in New York and Georgia.

The program, which provides credits of up to 25% of production spending, is overseen by the state’s film commission, which selects TV shows and movies partly based on the number of jobs created. In March, Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” became the 16th television series to relocate to California. Films covered under the program include Disney’s “Captain Marvel,” Paramount’s “Bumblebee” and Warner Bros.’ “Space Jam 2.”

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