On-location film in Los Angeles plunged to its lowest levels on record for the second quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FilmLA permitting agency reported Wednesday.

The report showed overall production plunged by 97.8% to only 194 shoot days as production remained shut down from March 20 to June 15. State and county officials gave film production the green light to resume in late June, but the permitting agency noted the return to work has been “gradual and cautious.”

Television slid 98.2% percent to 52 shoot days; commercials were off 95.5% to 58 days and feature film production was close to non-existent with three days.

“The first shutdowns we saw in March were voluntary, and it was hoped they could be temporary. Looking back, it was hard to imagine the impact the pandemic would have on entertainment projects in progress, and the economic security of local cast, crew, and production vendors,” noted FilmLA President Paul Audley. “The good news is that production is starting to responsibly return, with advertising shoots, commercials, and limited television production now coming online.”

Lazy loaded image
FilmLA Q2 Shoot Days Danielle Walker

“All permitted filming must comply with Health Orders as issued by county authorities,” Audley added. “The measure of compliance we’re seeing is a real help in keeping the industry on the road to recovery.”

FilmLA reported last week that about 14 film permit applications were being submitted per day since resuming remote operations on June 15 — about 20% of the pre-pandemic level. The largest television project to apply to shoot on location is Freeform’s “Love in the Time of Corona.”

FilmLA said last week that three soap operas have resumed filming on sound stages in Los Angeles: “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Young and the Restless” and “General Hospital.” FilmLA does not coordinate permits for the productions on certified sound stages.

Producers on the pandemic thriller “Songbird” announced Wednesday that they had launched principal photography in Los Angeles and asserted it was the first film to shoot since the start of lockdown. Bradley Whitford, Jenna Ortega joined the previously announced cast of Demi Moore, Craig Robinson, Paul Walter Hauser, and Peter Stormare. The new castings were first reported by Deadline.

SAG-AFTRA had issued a “do not work” order on the production on July 2, but rescinded that order the next day. Producers are former Paramount production chief Adam Goodman and former Disney exec Andrew Sugerman’s Invisible Narratives, with Catchlight Films and Michael Bay also producing.

“Finding a safe and practical way back into production has not been easy, however, our partnership with the guilds and unions has been a true testament to our great Hollywood community,” Goodman said. “Throughout the process they were awesome partners at finding a way to get their members working again, but always making safety and welfare the first priority. As artists, we need to keep telling stories, and times like these must be documented.”