According to a recent FilmLA report, on-location filming in Greater Los Angeles is down more than 18 percent so far in 2020 and continues to fall. Among other documented impacts to business in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, declines in a key measure of entertainment industry output highlight the economic challenges facing LA’s signature industry.
After starting strong in January, on-location filming in LA slowed in March following a series of voluntary cutbacks and progressively tightening public gathering limits. The 1,091 local productions filming in February 2020 dwindled to 644 projects in March before filming ended completely on March 20. On that date, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health and other state and local authorities issued complementary “Safer at Home” Orders, which closed the region to on-location filming until further notice.
With the shutdown poised to extend deep into the second quarter, FilmLA analysts predict that local Shoot Day (SD) losses are already unrecoverable for the year. The hardest hit filming sector in the first quarter was Television, which saw an overall decline of 20.6 percent (2,491 SD compared to 3,139 SD in 2019). This is significant, for as revealed in FilmLA’s 2019 Television Production Report, 198 out of 465 (or 42.5 percent) of scripted shows produced across all platforms were shot in Los Angeles.
Episodic television also accounts for 70-75 percent of filming activity on major sound stages in LA. Looking at Television Shoot Days by subcategory, TV Comedy production decreased 53.9 percent in Q1 to 251 SD. TV Drama production dropped 25.7 percent to 889 SD. TV Pilot production fell 19.4 percent to 87 SD for the period, and Web-Based TV slipped 13.1 percent to 225 SD. TV Reality production increased 11.7 percent in Q1 with 771 SD (vs. 690 SD in 2019). This increase may be due to the influx of streaming providers which launched their platforms during the first quarter of 2020.
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