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L.A. Film and Television Production Rebounds in the First Quarter

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FilmL.A. announced that overall on-location production in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas jumped 17.6 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2012. The not-for-profit organization coordinates film permits in the L.A. area, and measures volume of production in “Permitted Production Days, (PPD). The first quarter of 2013 saw 13,361 PPD as compared to 11,360 PPD in 2012.

FilmL.A. attributes the growth to strong showings in the features and television production categories, as well as the less economically influential still photography category.

Feature production in the Los Angeles region increased 25.5 percent for the quarter, bringing total PPD logged to 1,279. The first quarter is typically a slower season for feature film production in Los Angeles, so the early increase could bode well for the rest of 2013.

The California Film & Television Tax Credit Program did its part to bring new feature projects to the Los Angeles region. State-qualified feature projects generated 171 PPD last quarter – 13.4 percent of the quarterly total, including such films as 10 Things I Hate About Life, Dark Skies and Walk of Shame.

Following a year of losses for on-location television production, the first quarter brought double-digit gains for nearly all television subcategories. The TV pilot subcategory (up 37.3 percent to 460 PPD) led the way, followed by TV sitcom (up 36.9 percent to 608 PPD), Web-based TV (up 35.4 percent to 539 PPD) and TV drama (up 22.4 percent to 1,260 PPD). The TV reality subcategory grew by just 2.1 percent to 1,591 PPD, but still figured prominently in quarterly returns.

Overall, the Television category posted a 19.0 percent gain for the quarter compared to the same period in 2012. It’s the strongest first quarter TV has seen since 2007 – encouraging since the quarter contains much of the traditional broadcast pilot season.

Last quarter, a number of Los Angeles-based television projects took advantage of the California Film and Television Tax Credit, among them Body of Proof, Bunheads, Franklin and Bash, Justified, Major Crimes, Rizzoli and Isles and Teen Wolf. State-qualified television projects generated 176 PPD – 3.5 percent of the category’s total, and 13.0 percent of local TV drama production.

Production in the Still Photography category jumped significantly for the period, up 51.8 percent to 2,561 PPD. The category is not seen as a significant economic driver; the increase is notable because Still Photography accounted for 43.7 percent of the quarter’s overall growth.

“Not all production days are the same,” explained FilmL.A. president Paul Audley. “While we appreciate the work of L.A. area photographers, still photography as a category is considered ‘low-yield’ from an economic standpoint.”

Commercials productions slipped a little in the last quarter, down 0.6 percent to 2,295 PPD. The category, which delivered a record-setting return in 2012, has generally fared well in Los Angeles since 2009.

“We’re viewing the latest numbers with caution and optimism,” said Audley. “One quarter can’t undo all the troubling declines we’ve experienced, but we’re certainly encouraged to see things moving in an upward direction.”

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