On-location film and TV production in Greater Los Angeles is off to a “strong start” in 2022, with 9,832 days of on-location shooting setting an all-time first-quarter record according to the latest report from FilmLA, the city and county film permit office. That topped the previous first quarter mark set in 2016 but was down 8.8% from the record-setting 10,780 shoot days racked up in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Shoot days in the first three months of this year were up 40.2% compared to the first quarter of 2021, when the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus led to a voluntary filming hiatus that slowed production to just 7,011 shoot days for the quarter and were 9.7% higher than the five-year average of first quarters.
“The potential for another Covid-related cutback had us eyeing the first quarter with concern,” FilmLA president Paul Audley said. “But with strong protective protocols in place, the industry was in a good position to weather the post-holiday Omicron surge.”
Most of the first quarter’s gains, however, came in a FilmLA category that generates relatively few jobs: the “other category,” which includes still photography shoots, student films, music and industrial videos and documentaries. Those shoot days posted a whopping 115.1% gain from a year ago – 3,608 vs. 1,677. Factoring out that increase results in a first quarter that was not much better than the first three months of 2021.
On-location TV shoot days were up 18.7% over the same three-month period last year, with reality shows logging a 71.7% quarterly increase and a 139% gain over the five-year average. (That average excludes the year 2020, when production was suspended in Los Angeles County between mid-March through mid-June due to Covid-19.)
TV reality projects that filmed locally include Basketball Wives, Celebrity IOU, Family or Fiancé spirit People Magazine Investigates. Unlike films and scripted TV shows, however, reality shows aren’t eligible for California’s film incentives.
Episodic dramas were down 12.3% from the first quarter of 2021 but posted an 8.6% increase over the five-year average. TV dramas that filmed locally included American Horror Stories (FX), Little America (Apple TV +), Perry Mason (HBO), Promised Land (ABC / Hulu), SWAT (CBS), and The Flight Attendant (HBO Max).
FilmLA noted that the California Film & Television Tax Credit program, which is overseen by the California Film Commission, “is a significant driver of local TV drama activity. Episodic TV dramas participating in this program generated 499 shoot days for the quarter – representing 39% of all activity in the category. ” (A shoot day is defined as one crew’s permission to film at one or more locations during all or part of any 24-hour period. The data does not include projects shot on certified sound stages.)
TV comedy shoot days were up 8.4% compared to last year’s first quarter (259 to 239) but were down 45.5% compared to the five-year average. Comedies that shot locally included Hacks (HBO Max), Home Economics (ABC), Made for Love (HBO Max) and Rutherford Falls (Peacock), though not a single shooting day of comedies was incentivized by the tax credits.
TV pilot shoot days fell by 38.1% quarter-to-quarter (60 vs. 97) and were down 68.9% compared to the five-year average. FilmLA said that “Because LA remains a destination of choice for television producers, analysts believe the decrease is due to changes in the way straight-to-series television projects are permitted.”
Feature film shoot days, meanwhile, saw only a 3.3% increase quarter-to-quarter (594 vs. 575), and were down 25.2% over the five-year average. Locally filmed projects include Home Delivery, Love Me to Death, Rooming with Danger and Netflix’s Me Time.
Feature film projects that received the state’s tax incentives only accounted for 26 shoot days, or 4.4% of all film project activity.
Shoot days for television and internet commercials, which aren’t eligible for tax credits, finished up 16.8% over the first quarter of 2021 (1,160 vs. 993) but were down 17.4% versus the five-year average. Companies and services such as Apartments.com, AT&T and Beats shot ads locally during the quarter.