The Los Angeles region experienced a record number of on-location filming days in the final quarter of 2021, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the year finished with more filming days overall than in 2019 and 2020, according to the nonprofit agency that coordinates permits in the area.
FilmLA said Wednesday that the months of October through December had an all-time quarterly record of 10,780 shoot days, 4% more than the previous high of 10,359 in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Overall, last year had a total of 37,709 shoot days, which was 1.6% lower than the “pre-COVID average” and lower the number of shoot days in 2016, 2017 and 2018. However, 2021’s shoot days did exceed the number of shoot days in 2019 by 3.2%.
FilmLA reported that COVID-19 caused 2021 to begin with a soft start, but as cases declined in Los Angeles during the spring and summer, shoot days significantly increased, reaching 9,791 in the second quarter, 10,179 in the third quarter and finally 10,780 in the fourth quarter.
“This is an encouraging report by most indicators, but how production will fare in 2022 remains uncertain at this time,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said.
“With the highly contagious Omicron variant driving record COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, industry output is also affected. Just as 2021 got off to a slow start, the New Year has filmmakers feeling cautious, with many studios and production companies delaying their return to filming,” he said. “Our hope is that 2022 follows a similar trajectory as last year — with a slow, responsible start and strong end-of-year finish.”
Television production remained on par with the previous two quarters, with 4,925 shoot days in the final three months of 2021. For the year, television production had a record 18,560 shoot days, beating the previous record of 16,463 in 2016 by 18%.
Television dramas increased 23.8% for the year compared to the pre- pandemic average. Dramas shot locally included The CW’s “All American,” ABC’s “Promised Land,” FX’s “Snowfall,” HBO’s “Euphoria,” Peacock’s “Bel Air,” and HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant.”
Reality television also broke records, with 9,551 shoot days in 2021, a 129.8% increase over the pre-COVID average of 4,157.
Television comedies declined, however, finishing the quarter 40.6% below the pre-pandemic average. Comedies filmed locally included ABC’s “Home Economics,” NBC’s “Kenan” and “Mr. Mayor,” TBS’ “Chad,” Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” and HBO Max’s “Made For Love.”
Feature film production experienced the greatest impact from the pandemic, FilmLA said, with only 907 shoot days in the fourth quarter of 2021, a 17.3% decrease over the pre-COVID fourth-quarter average. Overall in 2021, feature films saw a 19.2% decrease below the pre-pandemic average, with only 3,406 shooting days. Films that shot locally included Netflix’s “Me Time,” “Your Place or Mine,” “The Gray Man,” and an untitled Jonah Hill project. Independent films shot locally included “He Went That Way,” “Way Down Bundy” and “Wild Chickens.”
Commercial production remained steady compared to the pre-pandemic average for the fourth quarter, with 1,249 shooting days at the end of 2021. For the entire year, it decreased 3.1%, with 5,319 shoot days in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic average of 5,490.
Still photography, student films, documentaries, music and industrial videos and other productions that make up the “other” category had a “substantial” fourth quarter, FilmLA reported, with 3,699 shoot days at the end of 2021, but it was still about 3.8% lower than the pre-COVID average for that quarter. During the entire year, there were 10,424 “other” production shoot days, a 23.7% decrease from the pre-COVID average.