L.A. feature-film shoots jump in first quarter, agency reports

L.A. feature-film shoots jump in first quarter, agency reports
A commercial production shoot in a parking lot in downtown Los Angeles. Commercials generated 2,360 production days in the first quarter. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Despite the migration of film production from Southern California, the Los Angeles region saw double-digit percentage gains in feature-film production in the first three months of this year.

Feature films generated 1,588 production days in the first quarter, a 24% increase over the same period last year, according to figures released Tuesday by FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the city and county.

The category outperformed its five-year quarterly average by nearly 40%, although the figures were still well below peak levels in the late 1990s.  Additionally, the films were mostly lower-budget projects, those with  budgets of under $75 million. Expensive movies are typically filmed outside of California.

FilmL.A. attributed the increase largely to projects that received California's film and TV tax credit, which allows filmmakers to obtain a credit for up to 25% of certain production expenses, such as salaries paid to crew members and the cost of building sets. The credits can be used by companies to offset any of their state sales-tax or business-tax liabilities.

Fully 25% of local feature production in the first quarter was from projects that qualified for the state film credit, including  "Entourage: The Movie," "Horrible Bosses 2," "Los Altos," "Night Crawler" the "Zone."

"This report underscores the importance of our work to expand the film and television credit program to create jobs and boost our economy," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

Location shoots for television fell 9.2% to 4,624 production days, with declines across all categories, including dramas and sitcoms, according to the report. Commercials generated 2,360 production days, up 3%.

One production day is defined as a crew's permission to film a single project at a single location during any 24-hour period.

The data apply to filming on streets and non-certified sound stages in the city and the county.