On-location filming of feature movies, television series and commercials was down in the first quarter, according to figures released Wednesday by FilmL.A.
The Hollywood nonprofit that coordinates location film permits in Los Angeles, unincorporated Los Angeles County and other jurisdictions handled 8,843 on-location shoot days in January through March, a 9.1 percent decrease from the same period a year earlier.
FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said there were a number of factors behind the slowdown in production work, including a lack of television pilots, timing of feature film work receiving state tax credits and contract talks between commercial producers and the actors union SAG-AFTRA.
Those factors, however, were not cause for alarm, Audley added.
“Despite 2019’s slower start, we continue to expect that this will be among the most productive ever years for on-location filming in Los Angeles,” he said in a statement.
Feature film on-location filming dropped by 13 percent in the first quarter to 708 shoot days. Television filming dropped by 13.4 percent to 3,139 shoots days and commercial filming fell by 15.1 percent to 1,387 shoot days.
A shoot day is one crew’s permission to film at one or more locations during a 24-hour period. FilmL.A.’s data does not include activity on soundstages or studio backlots.
The decline in feature film activity was attributed by FilmL.A. to films receiving state tax credits in production during the first quarter. The California Film Commission, which administers the tax credit program, said that there are 18 film projects receiving tax credits that should begin filming in the state during the year.
“FilmL.A. predicts local feature activity will increase once some of those films begin production,” the nonprofit said.
While on the television side there were on-location increases for sitcoms and dramas, those were offset by heavy losses in TV pilots, down by 60 percent from the previous year; reality programs, down by 25 percent; and web-based TV, down by nearly 29 percent.
Television pilots continue to diminish. By FilmL.A.’s count there were 27 pilots filming on location in the first quarter, a 10 percent drop from the first quarter of last year.
“Excluding straight-to-series orders, which do not involve producing pilots in the traditional sense, fewer TV pilots were made last year than at any time since 2008,” FilmL.A. said.
Commercial production decreased by 15.1 percent during the first quarter.,
“Contract talks between SAG-AFTRA and commercial producers may have played a role in the Q1 slowdown,” FilmL.A. said. “Commercial producers are also vulnerable to economic pressures; higher budget projects are often filmed where tax incentive support is available.”