L.A. feature film shoots plunge in third quarter

After two consecutive quarters of growth, feature film shoots on the streets of Los Angeles plunged in the third quarter.

On-location filming fell 21% in the three-month period ending Sept. 30, generating only 1,640 production days compared with the same period a year ago, according to a report from FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the city. (One production day represents a crew’s permission to film a single location in a 24-hour period.)

The slide in feature activity marks a stark turnaround from the first and second quarters, when film production rose 16% and 9%, respectively. The data apply to film shoots on streets and noncertified sound stages, as opposed to shooting on studio lots.

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Film industry officials attributed the decrease to the ongoing rivalry from other states and foreign countries luring business away from Hollywood and the fact that fewer feature projects qualified for California’s film and television tax credit program this year.

So far in 2012, only 22 feature projects have been approved for the state film tax credit, which is allocated in June. The state, which awards $100 million a year via a lottery, approved 40 projects in 2011. State lawmakers recently approved legislation to extend funding for California’s film tax credit through mid-2017.

“We applaud the recent two-year extension of California’s film incentive program, and support expanding the program to stop the production outflow and attract a more diverse slate of high-value productions,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said in a statement.

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State film tax credits were awarded to several locally produced TV shows, including “Body of Proof” and “Rizzoli and Isles.”

Nonetheless, those shows accounted for a tiny share of overall TV location filming in the third quarter. The television category had a weak quarter, slipping 1.4% to 4,245 production days, led by a 20.5% drop in reality TV and a 18.5% decline in TV dramas. Broadcast networks increasingly have been eyeing New York and other states for their new dramas.

On the other hand, sitcoms and and TV webisodes continue to show rapid growth in Los Angeles. Sitcom production jumped 48% in the quarter while TV webisodes surged by 149%, FilmL.A. said.

“The television landscape is changing in Los Angeles, and economically, the sector has taken a turn for the worse,” Audley said. “Many of the new TV projects we’re coordinating permits for have low spending and employment impacts. More needs to be done, policy-wise, to help return sought-after TV drama projects to Los Angeles.”

Commercial activity in the L.A. area decreased 5.3% to 1,635 days in the quarter afer posting big gains in the first half of the year.


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