FilmL.A., the not-for-profit organization that coordinates film permits in the Los Angeles area, announced that on-location filming across all categories declined 19.4 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, the steepest year-over-year decline since tracking began in 1993. The organization recorded 37,979 permitted production days (PPD) in 2009 compared to 47,117 tallied in 2008.
“This annual report reinforces the need for the positive steps being taken by the Los Angeles City Council and mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to attract more filming to the City,” said FilmL.A. president Paul Audley.
On-location feature film production posted a year-over-year loss of 29.9 percent (4,976 PPD in 2009 vs. 7,096 in 2008), a decline which would have been larger, were it not for the California Film and Television Tax Credit. Thanks to incentive-driven production, the feature category posted a fourth quarter PPD gain of 13.6 percent in 2009 over 2008.
The year 2008 marked a low point for on-location feature film production in Los Angeles, and 2009 proved even worse. Nonetheless, the benefits of California’s film incentive program—which began in July 2009—are now evident. Of the dozens of film and television projects that qualified to receive the state credit, 17 have already pulled permits to film in the Los Angeles area.
“The benefits of the State program are already evident, and there are many incentive-qualified projects that have yet to begin principal photography,” Audley said. “The incentive generates rapid returns in both economic stimulus and jobs. With an industry as mobile and responsive as ours, enhanced efforts to improve the environment for filming will pay immediate dividends and help regain our lost market share.”
The commercial category finished the year down 12 percent over 2008 (5,292 vs. 6,016 PPD). Commercials have seen year-over-year declines each year since 2006. However, the last two quarters in 2009 give cause for hope. The third and fourth quarters of 2009 saw commercial PPD increases of 10.2 and 20.5 percent, respectively—figures that may indicate a recovering economy and willingness of more companies to increase spending on advertising.
Television production posted an annual loss of 16.6 percent over 2008 (15,933 vs. 19,100 PPD). Each of the main television subcategories saw annual drops, with the sharpest declines experienced by the reality and sitcom genres.
Reality was down 24.0 percent (5,007 vs. 6,592 PPD) for the year. According to FilmL.A., many reality shows that filled the gap left by shuttered scripted programs during the WGA strike were not renewed into 2009.
Sitcoms, which were down 36.4 percent (863 vs. 1,357 PPD) may have been more restricted to stages in 2009 as a result of the increased expense of on-location production. Dramas were down 8.6 percent (6,154 vs. 6,736 PPD), which may be attributed to changes in the primetime network schedule, and TV pilots finished the year down 8.3 percent (802 vs. 875 PPD).
The industry is currently awaiting the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s comprehensive entertainment and media industry report, slated for release Feb. 20.