L.A.'s film location shooting up again

filmprod.jpgIf there's a state of emergency in Hollywood, as Mayor Garcetti keeps insisting, it seems like a strange one. Overall on-location filming rose 9.5 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, reports FilmLA. Feature films were up 19.5 percent during the July-September period, while TV fell 3.6 percent (though dramas were up). Of course, the location numbers are off considerably from the 1990s, before the onslaught of tax incentive programs from other states. But the L.A. area remains by far the capital of location shooting (as well as activity on certified sound stages that isn't even included in the report). Being an advocacy group pushing for additional California tax incentives for producers, FilmLA continues to look at the glass as half empty. "The small incremental increases are a good sign, but they do not represent a true recovery. We are not seeing a return of the high economic value productions to Los Angeles. Instead, we are seeing an increase in new media, like direct-to-web production, and very low budget films," FilmL.A. president Paul Audley told Deadline. It's not surprising that new media work would be pooh-poohed, considering that it typically involves non-union, low-wage productions. Nobody wants to work for cheap, but clearly that sector is growing and at some point the Hollywood regulars will have to learn to live with the industry's changing economics. Which means that the mayor, along with his new film czar, Tom Sherak, will have a hard time convincing state lawmakers that the entertainment business needs additional giveaways. From Deadline:

Low-budget film or not, Feature production in L.A. County and nearby regions saw the biggest bounce among the categories that FilmL.A. tracks. The category had a 19.5% jump (1,959 PPD) over the 3Q of 2012. Perhaps more telling in this era of runaway production is that Feature production in Southern California beat its 5-year quarterly average by 14.6%. Now that's still a steep fall from the record-setting 13,980 total PPD of 1996 and before states like Georgia and Louisiana ramped up highly alluring tax incentives programs to attract production. At the same time, the $100 million California film and TV tax credit program, which was introduced in 2009 to combat runaway production, was responsible for about 5.5% of this quarter's increase with pics like "Jersey Boys" and "Best Man" getting the credit.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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