It was a record fourth quarter for the Los Angeles area in terms of on-location filming but not a record year, according to figures released Wednesday by FilmLA.
The Hollywood nonprofit that coordinates location film permits in Los Angeles, unincorporated Los Angeles County and other jurisdictions handled 10,780 on-location shoot days from October through December. That compares to 7,348 shoot days in the same period a year earlier.
“This is 4 percent above the previous three month high of 10,359 (shoot days) set in Q4, 2018,” the agency said in a release. “It is also an increase over the previous quarter, revealing a brisk pace of production leading into the holiday season.”
For the year, FilmLA handled 37,709 shoot days, less than the peak of 39,627 shoot days reached in 2016.
“This was also below annual totals logged in 2017 (38,284 shoot days) and 2018 (38,795 shoot days) but exceeded pre-pandemic year 2019 (36,450 shoot days) by 3.2 percent,” FilmLA said in its release.
A shoot day is one crew’s permission to film at one or more locations during a 24-hour period. FilmLA’s data does not include activity on soundstages or studio backlots.
The pandemic has had the greatest impact on feature film production done on location.
For the fourth quarter, only 907 feature film shoot days were recorded by FilmLA, while for the year the total was 3,406 shoot days or 19.6 percent below the pre-COVID average of the years 2016 through 2019.
Television was once again the bright spot for on-location filming.
In the fourth quarter, the category posted 4,925 shoot days, on par with the previous two quarters. For the year, television posted a record 18,560 shoot days, beating the previous record of 16,463 shoot days in 2016.
“Put another way, approximately one-half of all shoot days recorded by FilmLA in 2021 – 49.2 percent – were generated by scripted or unscripted television production,” the agency said in its release.
FilmLA President Paul Audley called the report “encouraging” but could not say how production will fare this year. It is the nonprofit’s hope that the new year follows last year’s trajectory with a slow, responsible start and strong end-of-year finish, he said.
“With the highly contagious Omicron variant driving record COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, industry output is also affected,” Audley said in a statement. “Just as 2021 got off to a slow start, the new year has filmmakers feeling cautious, with many studios and production companies delaying their return to filming.”