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Home / Neighborhood / LA County / Filming in LA area declined to historic lows after strikes

Filming in LA area declined to historic lows after strikes

by City News Service
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On-location filming in the Los Angeles area declined sharply following last year’s twin strikes against entertainment studios, falling 36.4% in the last quarter of 2023, according to a report released Tuesday.

FilmLA, a partner film office for the city and county of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions, issued its update on regional filming activity for the fourth quarter along with a review of production activity for the entire year of 2023.

The report showed a total of 5,520 shoot days in the fourth quarter, compared with 8,674 shoot days for the same period in 2022. For the year as a whole, 2023 saw 24,873 shoot days compared with 36,792 shoot days in 2022, a 32.4% decline.

“History offers no point of comparison to the present,” FilmLA President Paul Audley said in a statement. “The pandemic year aside, we have to look very far back — farther back than permit records allow — to find a time when production levels stayed so low, for so long.”

Audley added, “Everyone we are speaking to is eager to see production resume. Even as it does, we’ll remain in uncharted territory. We have months to go before we can describe what the new normal looks like for filming in L.A.”

On Sept. 27 and Nov. 9, respectively, the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA actors union called off their strikes after new labor agreements were reached with representatives for the studios.

Starting in October, with the near immediate return of some programming, including nightly talk shows, hope grew that scripted television would return before the holidays, according to FilmLA.

Filming resumed in November, but only a handful of continuing television series attempted new episodes, and television production declined 54.3%, to 1,707 shoot days, in the fourth quarter. For the year, television production dropped 43.8%, to 9,430 shoot days.

The report said most television production that did take place since May came from reality series. The reality TV category dropped 29.2% in the fourth quarter, to 1,425 shoot days. For the year, production in that category declined 28.1%, to 7,221 shoot days.

Reality TV accounted for 76.5% of all on-location television production in 2023, including ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Hulu’s “Death in the Dorm,” Fox’s “Master Chef,” Netflix’s “Selling Sunset,” and Investigation Discovery’s “Murder in the Heartland.”

Television drama production fell 91.3% from October through December with 101 shoot days in 2023 compared to 1,155 shoot days in 2022. Television comedy production fell 85.6% in 2023, with 51 shoot days compared to 353 shoot days in 2022.

During the fourth quarter, several projects qualified for the state’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program, about 25 shoot days, FilmLA reported.

Dozens more qualified projects are expected to restart this month. The shows quickest to return to production were Apple TV+’s “Loot,” BET+’s “The Family Business,” NBC’s “Quantum Leap,” ABC’s “The Rookie,” CBS’ “S.W.A.T.,” and Netflix’s “Unstable.”

Feature film production dropped 57.5% to 323 shoot days. Most feature projects in production this summer were small, independent productions, among a few that were approved under SAG-AFTRA interim agreements.

Three independent features in production during the fourth quarter were also associated with the state’s tax credit program for films — “Hurricana,” “Shell” and “Starstuck,” which together generated a total of 28 shoot days.

Filming for web and television commercials declined, FlimLA noted. The report showed this category had a 9.9% year-over-year drop to 746 shoot days in 2023.

There were many automobile ads for BMW, Chevy, Honda, Lincoln, Nissan and Toyota filmed in L.A. Additionally, Best Buy, Walmart and Walgreens also filmed commercials locally.

In the “other” category — covering lower-cost shoots such as still photography, student films, documentaries, music and industrial videos and other projects — production fell 18.1% for the final quarter of 2023, representing a 20.7% decline, or 10,157 shoot days, for the year.

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