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TV Production Grows Amid Higher Demand for Soundstages, Per FilmLA Report

Television series production increased by 10 percent in 2020 from the prior year on soundstages and studio backlots in Los Angeles County, according to a new report from FilmLA.

The Hollywood nonprofit that coordinates on-location filming permits, released on Friday its fourth Sound Stage Production Report on filming activity.

Television series made up 72 percent of the shoot days that projects filmed on soundstages and backlots during 2020, a year marked by a total stoppage of filming for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. That is an increase from the 62 percent of television soundstage and backlot shoot day activity in 2019.

“Along with other kinds of projects, partner studios reported a total of 307 television series filming partially or entirely on their stages in 2020. Show counts were almost evenly split, with 155 one-hour and 152 half-hour series,” according to a release from FilmLA.

On average, the stage occupancy rate in 2020 was 94 percent, a slight increase from the 93 percent occupancy in the prior year.

“While most stage operators reported to FilmLA that they had not lost a single lessee during the Q2 2020 shutdown, those that found themselves with a sudden vacancy also found it easy to attract new customers,” FilmLA said in its release.

Partner studios include six major Hollywood studios and seven large independent operators of soundstage facilities. Each shares data with FilmLA to compile the report.

Partner studios control 3.7 million of the estimated 5.4 million square feet of certified stage space available in L.A. County – a total of 68 percent of the local market, according to the agency’s release.

FilmLA has identified 14 soundstage construction projects being done either by independent operators or by the major studios that are in various stages of approval, under construction or plan to start construction in the next year or two. This includes the current expansions at the Universal Studios lot and the planned construction of new stages on the Warner Bros.’ Ranch in Burbank.

“If all of these projects are built, the count of certified stages in the region would increase by approximately 27 percent, and square footage by an unknown but considerable sum,” FilmLA said in its release.

Agency spokesperson Phil Sokoloski said it predicted it would see a high level of interest in soundstage and backlot use on the return from L.A. County’s 87-day pandemic production pause.

“But that’s not to say it was easy for our partners to say ‘yes’ to filming,” Sokoloski said in a statement.

There were, after all, new procedures and protocols in place, parking and staffing logistics to master, personal protection equipment procurement challenges and new costs to absorb, he added.

 

“What this data really highlights is the resiliency of an industry unified in its effort to get people back to work,” Sokoloski said in the statement.

A shoot day is defined as one crew’s active use of a sound stage or backlot during all or part of any given 24-hour period.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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