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FilmLa Reports Production Back to Pre-Pandemic Norms with Television Booming


Photo courtesy FilmLA

FilmLA has released its latest production report on Los Angeles County production, which reports that it’s back to pre-pandemic levels, achieving its best quarter since late 2019. The report shows that the major drop in production last year due to COVID-19 has recovered almost in exact reverse to how it dropped after all production was shut down last March.

FilmLA reports a total of 9,791 Shoot Days* were recorded across all categories in the second quarter of 2021. For comparison purposes, before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, the average number of Shoot Days recorded in a quarter totaled 9,135. This means that Q2 2021 activity bested the 2019 average quarterly by 7.2 percent.

The second quarter of 2021 also delivered an increase in Shoot Days compared to the immediate three months prior; by that measure quarterly production increased approximately 40 percent (from 7,011 SD to 9,791) since March. All of the four major categories tracked by FilmLA – Features, Commercials, Television and Other – experienced significantly increased activity. Leading the pack were Commercials, with a 55.5 percent increase over Q1 to 1,544 SD, followed by the Other category (up 49.7 percent to 2,510 SD), Features (up 43.3 percent to 824 SD) and Television (up 30.5
percent to 4,913 SD).

Another way to evaluate recent growth is to compare each category to its five-year rolling average. By this measure, Shoot Days for Television were up by an impressive 82.1 percent, followed by Commercials (up 38.5 percent). Trailing behind, however, were the Other category (down 7.7 percent) and Features (down 9.4 percent).

Paul Audley, the President, FilmLA, made the following statement about the return of production, “By almost any available measure, the second quarter was good for filming in Los Angeles. With local COVID-19 cases rising it’s not clear whether that will be sustainable, but the industry’s commitment to community, cast and crew safety remains firmly in place.”

Television, as Greater Los Angeles’ main production driver, remains important, and the TV Drama and TV Reality subgenres are largely responsible for the second quarter increase in production activity. Shoot days for TV Dramas (totaling 1,501) were up by 120.7 percent over their five-year quarterly average, and those for TV Reality (totaling 2,447) were up by 189.3 percent. Shoot days for TV Dramas in the second quarter of 2021 were comparable to first quarter levels (1,459 SD in Q1 vs. 1,501 SD in Q2), however TV Reality production increased by 61.6 percent over the same period (1,514 SD in Q1 vs. 2,447 SD in Q2). A total of 19.3 percent of TV Drama Shoot Days in the second quarter were for California Tax Credit projects.

Television series that shot locally in Q2 include CBSGhosts; the Hulu mini-series, The Dropout, American Crime Story: Impeachment (FX), Animal Kingdom (TNT), the new Starz drama, Gaslit, Star Trek: Picard (Paramount+), and two new Netflix series, Lincoln Lawyer and Monster.

Feature films that shot locally include Netflix’s Day Shift, Hollywood Stargirl (Disney+), Kimi (HBO Max). The new Steven Spielberg movie, The Fabelmans, also started shooting last month. A total of 9.3 percent of Feature Shoot Days in the second quarter were for California Tax Credit projects.

FilmLA analysts declined to predict how the spread of COVID-19 in Greater Los Angeles will impact regional production activity moving forward.

Audley adds, “Appendix J protocols specific to filming were removed Los Angeles County in June. Nonetheless, the industry’s robust safety guidelines remain firmly in place and these have so far proven effective for keeping business moving safely.”

You can download and read the full report from FilmLA at

*On-location production figures are based on days of permitted production within the jurisdictions served by FilmLA. One “Shoot Day” (or “SD”) is defined as one crew’s permission to film at one or more defined locations during all or part of any given 24-hour period. This measure determines how many days of work film crews perform during a given time period. FilmLA data does not include production that occurs on certified sound stages or on-location in jurisdictions not served by FilmLA.

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