Streaming TV boom finds a home in unlikely Pacoima
The rising demand for scripted shows on streaming services is having an effect in a decidedly un-Hollywood area of Los Angeles: the neighborhood of Pacoima.
West Hollywood-based Quixote Studios — a major provider of facilities, trailers and equipment for the entertainment industry — on Thursday unveiled its new $30-million facility that will provide much-needed stage space for major shoots.
The project, which sits on a 10-acre space next to a mobile home park on Glenoaks Boulevard in the northern San Fernando Valley, boasts five soundstages totaling 75,000 square feet, 20,000 square feet of office space and a cafe for filmmakers and crew members.
It has already attracted some high-profile business. The first show to shoot there will be Amazon Studios’ “Them: Covenant,” a horror anthology series whose executive producer is Lena Waithe of “Master of None.” The show, co-produced by Sony Pictures Television, received a two-season order from the Amazon.com-owned streaming service a year ago.
Quixote Studios Chief Executive Mikel Elliott, in a phone interview this week, said the early interest bodes well for the new north Valley facility, which has been in the works for about 2 1/2 years.
He said the company was interested in the space partly because of the low cost of building there, compared with other areas closer to L.A.'s entertainment industry. Quixote, which already had an equipment warehouse nearby on Norris Avenue, was also enticed by the potential for ample parking, often a rare luxury for L.A. production staff.
“We’re going to develop Pacoima into a production hub,” Elliott said. “That real estate was relatively affordable, and it’s an attractive location.”
Los Angeles’ status as the heart of film and TV production has been threatened for years by other states and countries that lure studios with generous incentives. States including Georgia and Louisiana have eaten into California’s share of shoots with tax credits of up to 30% and 40%, respectively. Furthering California’s effort to combat runaway production, the state last year extended its own film and TV tax credit program to 2025, adding five years to its lifespan. The program hands out $330 million in annual tax credits to selected productions.
Lately, the era of “peak TV” and demand for high-end productions for tech companies such as Netflix and Amazon have been a bright spot for local shooting. On-location filming days for TV dramas in Greater L.A. increased 17.3% to 842 in the second quarter of 2019 from the same period in 2018, according to a July report from FilmL.A. Television comedy shooting rose 3.2% to 485 days. Meanwhile, overall filming fell 3.9% during the quarter, driven by a steep decline in feature film shoots and commercials.
But despite the overall drop in production, stages in the L.A. area are working at capacity because of the rise in demand for streaming content, said Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A., the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the county. The shortage has forced production companies to use abandoned big-box retail stores for their shoots, he said.
“A soundstage is actually designed for doing the work,” Audley said. “Having these stages allows us to plan for those larger budget projects to come back to L.A.”
Pacoima isn’t a total no-man’s land for the film and television industry. The area is home to prop studios and equipment warehouses, as well as Air Hollywood, a studio used for aviation scenes, said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who represents the area as part of Council District 7. Still, the new studio could provide a boost to the local economy, she said.
“We’ve had some footprint, but this significantly grows the [entertainment] industry in our district,” she said.
Others are working to build out stage space to meet demand in the San Fernando Valley, where there’s more space to build than in Los Angeles’ traditional studio locations. Pacoima-based Line 204 Studios is constructing a 240,000 square-foot studio complex in Sun Valley, for example.
Elliott of Quixote, who got his start in 1992 by driving commercial photographers to various shoots in a motor home, provides stage space across the L.A. River from Griffith Park, as well as three stages in West Hollywood and three more in New Orleans. Quixote has about 240 employees.
He said he’s not done expanding yet, with plans to grow his business significantly in Pacoima with additional stages and office space.
“We’re going to double our footprint over the next three to four years,” he said.
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